Singapore—The Independent reported the Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam’s explanation on the banning of WATAIN’s concert yesterday. The minister had said that the reason for the band was primarily due to the band’s song lyrics which was blatantly against Christianity.
However, Mr Shanmugam also explained how a photo of “primarily young Malay men showing the one-finger sign with WATAIN, supporting the group” was not representative of Muslims. This however has led to some netizens taking issue with the Minister for bringing the race card into the matter.
Speaking at a Dadah Itu Haram event where he thanked volunteers who helped with the campaign against drugs in the Malay-Muslim community, he said, “I saw (Watain’s) lyrics – its four-letter words on Jesus Christ, on Christianity, on religion, abusing the cross – everything that is so far out that I can’t see how we could have agreed to it.”
While this matter was not particularly relevant to the community he was addressing, he said that it was important to discuss it openly. He narrated that Christian leaders have told him he is “very, very strict when it comes to anti-Muslim, anti-Islamic messages.”
“They said what these people (WATAIN) are saying is far worse, it is a hundred times worse about Christianity – how come you would allow that? … They said you treat the Muslim community differently than the Christian community.”
Mr Shamnugam said, ”I looked at it and I thought that there is some truth to what they say. I won’t say that it is completely true but it is an approach.”
The Home Affairs Minister brought attention to a picture on WATAIN’s Facebook account wherein the cancellation of the concert was lambasted, saying it showed “mainly young Malay men showing the one-finger sign with WATAIN.”
He added, “I think they went to the concert, got angry, they are all showing the one-finger sign. In a multiracial society, they don’t understand that the concert is anti-Christian, it criticises Jesus and Christianity and churches and they talk about burning churches and so on.
If we had a concert like this about Islam, there is no way we would have allowed it. If a group of Chinese went and showed the finger sign and said that we should allow it – how would you all have felt? It is the same.”
He added that this photo has gone viral among Christians.
“They won’t realize that this a small group of Malays, but they may think, is this what Muslims think of us? So now we have to send the message that this is not what the Muslim community thinks. These are black metal group supporters, they are not the mainstream community.”
Mr Shanmugam has already received criticism for cancelling the concert in the first place, and now, some netizens have taken issue with the Minister pointing out a specific race who were part of the people upset with the cancellation.
Netizen Suf Iyan commented, Was playing the race card necessary? There were people from all walks of life in attendance and not just “mostly Malay men” in that photo. What kind of damage control are you doing when you try to scapegoat a minority?
The very act of canceling the show at the last minute with approved licenses and permits while succumbing to pressure from vocal religious conservatives shows weakness and incompetence of the MHA, warrants the Finger regardless of race and/or religion.”
Another netizen going by the name of Z’ming Cik, posted on the issue in his or her own timeline, Sunday headline news: Malay youths showed the middle finger upon cancellation of Watain concert. Home Affairs Minister Shanmugam says such offensive behaviour is not representative of the viewpoint of the Muslim community, and he calls upon the Muslim community to educate the youths on the value of ‘not doing unto others what you would not others do unto you’.
I think this is totally uncalled for if the Zaobao reporting has indeed been accurate. What have Malay metal fans to do with the Muslim identity? You should talk to all concerned heavy metal fans which may include people of different ethnic groups and religions. Why do you single out a particular ethnic group?”
Even the photographer responsible for the photo that Mr Shanmugam referred to, expressed his dismay at the racist aspect of the issue. He wrote, “Hang on a minute here…since when did race come into the picture of the Watain cancellation??
Why is the Minister specifically positioning the unhappiness of the ticket buyers as a race vs religion issue?
My photograph shows the group that took a photo with Watain expressing their unhappiness, and all I see is racial diversity that cuts across all races, regardless of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Eurasian or others.
Nowhere were there any posters, banners or signs spelling out anti-Christian sentiments in this group shot. This was a photo of metalheads that are expressing their frustration at the cancellation of what was essentially a private ticketed event, which had been approved by the authorities.
It’s a very dangerous game when authorities start turning what basically is a photo of a group of unhappy people into a racial statement with anti-religious overtones. This will affect social harmony more than what Watain’s lyrics will ever do.”
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