Controversial Malaysian rapper Namewee has been arrested after complaints that his most recent music video “insulted Islam”.
Namewee, whose real name is Wee Meng Chee, was detained on August 21. He is known for his profanity-laced music.
The offending video, for his song Oh My God, was first released in July and features him rapping in front of places of worship around Malaysia.
Namewee, 33, insists that his song was intended to promote religious harmony.
On August 22, Malaysian police remanded Namewee in custody for four days to investigate him for “defiling a place of worship with intention to insult religion”. The charge carries a jail term of up to two years.
About two thirds of Malaysians are Muslim, though the country also has significant Buddhist, Christian and Hindu populations. But there have been a number of instances in recent years of blogs and certain representations of Islam stoking controversy in Malaysia.
Namewee makes several religious references, using terms such as “Allah” and “Hallelujah”.
The singer and three others also appear to sing and dance in front of Buddhist and Taoist temples, inside a church and outside a mosque.
The latest version of the video uploaded to YouTube on 20 August, however, does not appear to include a sequence in front of a mosque.
Representatives from 20 local NGOs lodged some 10 reports against the singer.
Namewee was arrested on August 21 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport after returning from an overseas trip.
On August 22, Namewee posted a statement on his Facebook page where he says the intention of the Oh My God video was only to promote religious harmony.
The singer responded to people asking why he had returned to Malaysia when he could have evaded arrest by staying abroad by saying that he had done nothing wrong.
“If I’ve not done any wrong, why should I run and hide? [Malaysia] is my home, my land.”
Singing in Mandarin Chinese, Namewee is also hugely popular in Taiwan and China. But this is not his first brush with controversy.
In one of his previous videos Namewee questions Malaysia’s national energy provider over a blackout and another video featured a parody of the national anthem, which almost landed him in jail.
Malala Yousafzai’s book has been banned from private schools across Pakistan, education officials said on Sunday.
The Pakistani officials claim the teenage activist’s book doesn’t show enough respect for Islam and called her a tool of the West.
Malala Yousafzai attracted global attention last year when the Taliban shot her in the head in northwest Pakistan for criticizing the group’s interpretation of Islam, which limits girls’ access to education.
Her profile has risen steadily since then, and she released a memoir in October, I Am Malala, that was co-written with British journalist Christina Lamb.
While Malala Yousafzai has become a hero to many across the world for opposing the Taliban and standing up for girls’ education, conspiracy theories have flourished in Pakistan that her shooting was staged to create a hero for the West to embrace.
Adeeb Javedani, president of the All Pakistan Private Schools Management Association, said his group banned Malala Yousafzai’s book from the libraries of its 40,000 affiliated schools and called on the government to bar it from school curriculums.
“Everything about Malala is now becoming clear,” Adeeb Javedani said.
Malala Yousafzai’s book has been banned from private schools across Pakistan
“To me, she is representing the West, not us.”
Kashif Mirza, the chairman of the All Pakistan Private Schools Federation, said his group also has banned Malala Yousafzai’s book in its affiliated schools.
Malala Yousafzai “was a role model for children, but this book has made her controversial,” Kashif Mirza said.
“Through this book, she became a tool in the hands of the Western powers.”
He said the book did not show enough respect for Islam because it mentioned Prophet Muhammad’s name without using the abbreviation PUH – “peace be upon him” – as is customary in many parts of the Muslim world. He also said it spoke favorably of author Salman Rushdie, who angered many Muslims with his book The Satanic Verses, and Ahmadis, members of a minority sect that have been declared non-Muslims under Pakistani law.
In her reference to Salman Rushdie, Malala Yousfzai said in the book that her father saw The Satanic Verses as “offensive to Islam but believes strongly in the freedom of speech.”
“First, let’s read the book and then why not respond with our own book,” the book quoted her father as saying.
Malala Yousafzai mentioned in the book that Pakistan’s population of 180 million people includes more than 2 million Ahmadis, “who say they are Muslim though our government says they are not”.
“Sadly those minority communities are often attacked,” the book said, referring also to Pakistan’s 2 million Christians.
The conspiracy theories around Malala Yousafzai reflect the level of influence that right-wing Islamists sympathetic to the Taliban have in Pakistan. They also reflect the poor state of education in Pakistan, where fewer than half the country’s children ever complete a basic, primary education.
Millions of children attend private school throughout the country because of the poor state of the public system.
The Taliban blew up scores of schools and discouraged girls from getting an education when they took over the Swat Valley, where Malala Yousafzai lived, several years ago. The army staged a large ground offensive in Swat in 2009 that pushed many militants out of the valley, but periodic attacks still occur.
The mastermind of the attack on Malala Yousafzai, Mullah Fazlullah, recently was appointed the new head of the Pakistani Taliban after the former chief was killed in a US drone strike.