Some of the world’s top pop stars are facing growing pressure to keep skimpy outfits and steamy dance moves off the stage during their concerts in Muslim-majority Malaysia, event organizers said Wednesday, citing protests by conservative Islamic critics who believe such Western performers can corrupt youths.
Gwen Stefani made what she called “a major sacrifice” by wearing clothes that revealed little at a Kuala Lumpur performance Tuesday. Muslim students and political activists had called for her concert to be scrapped because of her sexy reputation.
Promoters have announced that Beyonce is scheduled to perform Nov. 1 in this Southeast Asian country — but with caveats.
“We’ve informed Beyonce’s management about this issue of clothes, but it takes some of the fun out of it,” said Razlan Ahmad Razali, chairman of Pineapple Concerts, which is organizing Beyonce’s concert.
“Beyonce won’t be able to do the kind of show here that she does elsewhere,” Razlan told The Associated Press. “She’s a fashion icon, and we know that she often wears miniskirts and clothes that expose her navel during her performances. It’s a pity to restrict her, because her costumes are all tasteful and glamorous.”
Kanye West faced a different problem when he came to Kuala Lumpur in April because government officials said he should not perform one of his biggest hits, “Jesus Walks,” because of religious sensitivities about the title, Razlan said.
Malaysia’s government guidelines for public performances require a female artist to cover up from the top of her chest to her knees, including her shoulders. Performers may not hug or kiss, and their clothes must not have obscene or drug-related images or messages.
A Pussycat Dolls concert last year caused its Malaysian organizers to be fined ($2,857) after the group was accused of flouting decency regulations.
Such concerns have made Malaysia less appealing to some stars. A concert promoter, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the hassle about clothes was one of the reasons that Christina Aguilera skipped Malaysia during a recent Asian tour that included neighboring Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.
The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, the country’s biggest political opposition group, which opposed Stefani’s appearance, says it will probably protest further if Beyonce or others like Justin Timberlake perform here.
“Even with Gwen Stefani, we’re not satisfied just because she covered up at the concert,” said party official Kamarulzaman Mohamed. “Outside, she still wears sexy clothes and influences teenagers who idolize her. It’s bad to have immoral artists visiting Malaysia.”