Erykah Badu’s concert in Muslim-majority Malaysia has been canceled after a publicity photo of her revealed a tattoo with the word “Allah” written in Arabic on her bare shoulders.
The Grammy-award-winning R&B singer was slated to perform Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur, but, according to Sean Yoong of the Associated Press, the concert was scuttled because of the pictures. “Some Muslim groups said Badu was an unsuitable role model for young Malaysians,” Yoong wrote.
Islam forbids tattoos and Muslims often feel offended when “Allah” is used in a way deemed disrespectful, though Badus’s tattoos “appear to be temporary,” Yoong wrote.
At the Wall Street Journal‘s Speakeasy Blog, Lyneka Little pointed out that Rais Yatim, Malaysia’s Minister of Information, let forth a string of tweets in Malay about Badu, explaining that her performance was canceled for “touching on religious sensitivities.”
Razman Razali, the concert’s organizer, told the AP that Badu is “worried and dismayed,” and his company is in contact with government officials and “hopes the ban will be reversed.”
The Star, Malaysia’s most widely read English-language daily newspaper, published the photo Monday, and, due to outcry from Muslim activists, issued an apology Tuesday for “inadvertently publishing” the photo.
This was the first concert by a Western performer to be banned in Malaysia in recent years, Yoong wrote. Western stars performing in Malaysia are warned to dress modestly for their shows to proceed.
Badu, who grew up in south Dallas and was profiled by TEXAS MONTHLY‘s Michael Hall for the January 2007 issue, is no stranger to controversy. In 2010, she uploaded a video for her song “Window Seat,” in which she strips naked and walks through Dallas’ Dealey Plaza. She was fined and placed on six months probation for her public nudity.