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Intellectuals debate on Lady Gaga's Indonesian ban

The latest controversy on Lady Gaga's Indonesia performance has raised few pertinent questions. Are we anybody to decide what is good for the humankind? Or should the artists also respect a country's religious sentiments? Some of the Muslim intellectuals from our society debate, reports Subuhi Parvez.

entertainment Updated: Jun 04, 2012 13:04 IST
Subuhi Parvez
Subuhi Parvez
Lady Gaga,Mahesh Bhatt,Nafisa Ali

Recently, pop diva Lady Gaga's biggest concert in Asia, a part of her Born This Way tour, was called off in Indonesia. The artist was not only called indecent but she even faced threats from the Islamic Defenders Front, a religious group.

Wonder why? Lady Gaga, who is known for her unusual dressing, is considered too provocative to perform in Indonesia. It is said that her revealing dresses could corrupt the youth of the country. But this is not the first time that we are facing something like this. Renowned artists like M F Husain, Salman Rushdie and now Lady Gaga have faced the heat from these ethnic groups not only in India but across the world.

There is a pertinent question that needs to be answered here. Are we anybody to decide what is good for the humankind in the name of god? Some of the Muslim intellectuals from our society debate about the ongoing fundamentalism.

Mahesh Bhatt, filmmaker, says that a country which lets its treasure like MF Husain die in exile can hardly take a holier than thou position on an issue like this.

"More brutality has been unleashed by man against man under the name of god. The atom bomb did not kill as many people as those killed in religious wars. The 21st century is no different", claims the director.

Zafar Agha, senior journalist, feels very strongly about the issue and says that it is the psyche that we need to deal with.

"This kind of order should have no place in the modern society. Some people are still living in the ancient times. This kind of mentality can never accept the modern values. I believe, we should condemn such groups. One cannot target the whole group but it is very important to target such psyche, he demands.

However, Michael Rusli, founder of concert promoter Big Daddy, told reporters that Indonesian government had given support for the concert. "For the past few days we have communicated with the government and Lady Gaga's side. The government has given support, but this is not about the permit. The cancellation is really due to concerns over security", he explained.

Is it really about security concerns? Or a country can't see its religious sentiments getting hurt. Nafisa Ali, who is an actor and social activist says, "Everyone has their views. I think we should understand their set of mind and respect that".

Sheeba Fehmi, a social activist has a different take on the issue. "I would reject such fundamentalism. But the artist should also be in sync with the community. Indonesia is a Muslim dominated country. Every society is not ready for western culture. Artists should know the social reality", she says.

"Lady Gaga also appeared in a raw meat dress, can we support that? I would like to say that artists should also think about the society and vice versa", adds Fehmi.

Ali Javed, professor Delhi University and Secretary General of All India Progressive Writers Association says, "I think nobody should be given the authority to do anything like this. Religion is a personal affair and it should be limited to the individual. Such religious groups should be condemned. They have no business to do that. Some Mullah objected that Sania Mirza should not play in shorts, why would she not?".

On one hand, people in Indonesia are celebrating that they have been saved from a devil, on the other fans are criticising the police force.

"This only shows to the world how weak security forces are in this country, how police are afraid of a bunch of hard-liners. Gaga's two-hour show will not hurt Indonesian Muslims. For God's sake, she is not a terrorist!", Johnny Purba told AP.

Although Gaga didn't get a warm reception in the country, this couldn't stop her from loving her Indonesian fans. The singer tweeted to her followers, "We had to cancel the concert in Indonesia. I'm so very sorry to the fans & just as devastated as you if not more," she wrote.

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First Published: Jun 01, 2012 17:37 IST