Malaysian rapper in custody for video 'insulting Islam'

From AFP via the UK Guardian

A Malaysian rapper has been remanded in custody by a court in Penang over a music video entitled Oh My God that allegedly insults Islam because it was partly filmed in a mosque.

Namewee, whose real name is Wee Meng Chee, will be held for four days, a district police chief, Mior Faridalathrash Wahid, told Agence France-Presse.

He said the rapper was being investigated for defiling a place of worship with the intent of insulting a religion.

The rapper, who is also a film director, could face up to two years in prison, a fine, or both, according to local media.

The word “Allah” and sounds of the Islamic call to prayer were said to have been used in the four-minute Mandarin music video.

Wee Meng Chee, center, a Malaysian rapper popularly known as Namewee, is escorted by plainclothes policemen as he arrives at the magistrate court in Penang, Malaysia, on Monday.

Wee Meng Chee, center, a Malaysian rapper popularly known as Namewee, is escorted by plainclothes policemen as he arrives at the magistrate court in Penang, Malaysia, on Monday.

The video featured footage of Namewee and other singers, dressed in outfits representing different cultures and religions, performing inside a Penang mosque and a church as well as Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist temples.

Namewee was arrested at Kuala Lumpur international airport on his return from overseas late on Sunday. Investigations are continuing after he was remanded by the court in Penang.

Malaysia generally practises a moderate form of Islam. But religious tensions have simmered in recent years, with concerns over a rise of conservative Islamic attitudes.

Earlier this year, cinema posters and a billboard advertisement for a Hong Kong blockbuster were modified to erase a half-man, half-pig character. Pork and its byproducts are forbidden under the religion.

In July, several groups filed police reports claiming Namewee’s music video had insulted Islam.

In response, he posted a YouTube video explaining that he had no intention of insulting any religion and that the song was written to “promote harmony”.

The original music video is no longer available online but an edited version without footage of the mosque scenes was uploaded to YouTube over the weekend.

Namewee, who is also popular in Taiwan, is no stranger to controversy and has ruffled political and religious feathers on several occasions over the years.

He first hit the headlines in 2007 when he posted a video that featured him rapping to Malaysia’s national anthem using allegedly seditious lyrics.

In the introduction to the video, which shows a Malaysian flag in the background, Namewee dedicated the song to “all Malaysians, especially the government”.

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