Lady Gaga has responded to the increasingly volatile situation surrounding her “Born This Way” concert in Indonesia, saying on Twitter that she has been asked by authorities to censor her show and has received threats of violence from Islamic hardliners should it go on as planned.
Earlier reports indicated that Gaga’s planned June 3 concert at Jakarta’s Gelora Bung Karno Stadium had been canceled after Indonesian national police refused to issue a permit, citing objections from Islamic groups who worried that Gaga’s performance would corrupt the nation’s youth. However, Gaga’s tour promoters are currently negotiating with government officials and police for the concert to go forward as planned.
“The Jakarta situation is 2-fold: Indonesian authorities demand I censor the show & religious extremist separately, are threatening violence,” Gaga tweeted Tuesday (May 22). “If the show does go on as scheduled, I will perform the BTWBall alone.”
Fifty thousand tickets for the show have been sold.
While Indonesia is a secular state governed as a multi-party representative democratic republic, it has the world’s largest population of Muslims, most of whom practice a moderate form of the religion. However, there are also more extremist fringe groups that have in recent years become increasingly vocal, particularly regarding Western entertainers visiting the country. Beyonc é, for example, was permitted to perform in Indonesia — the world’s fourth most populous nation — on the condition she agreed to dress more conservatively.
But these groups’ problems with Gaga extend beyond her wardrobe. The country’s top Islamic body, the National Ulema Council (MUI), has said it objects to the concert not only because of her provocative costumes, but because it considers her lyrics to be “blasphemous,” according to the AFP.
“Lady Gaga is considered an icon for liberal culture and Indonesia’s freedom is not without limits,” MUI official Asrorun Niam told AFP. “There are restrictions related to norms, morals and religion.”
A more militant group, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), said it would “create havoc” if the pop star’s performance went ahead, calling her the “devil’s messenger.” The Jakarta Globe reports the FPI have purchased 150 tickets to the concert, promising to enter the venue and stop the concert.
A spokesperson for FPI stressed that the group would not attack the audience, as their only target was Gaga and her crew. The group posted to its Facebook page a photo of a member wearing a turban and sunglasses to conceal his face, holding a ticket to the show with a caption reading, “We have gotten Lady Gaga tickets, not to watch but for us to enter. Whatever will be will be, we’re ready for the risk.”
“Hopefully, the concert is canceled,” the FPI has said. The group previously threatened to intercept Gaga in transit from the airport if she even enters Indonesia.
Despite the threats, lawyers representing Gaga’s tour production company reportedly met with Jakarta police today to negotiate the conditions necessary for the concert to go on as scheduled. A Jakarta police spokesman has said that for the concert to go ahead, concert promoters need to secure permits from the tourism ministry and the concert venue owner, in addition to ensuring Gaga “is dressed appropriately and does not violate cultural norms in this country.”
Gaga also encountered protests in the Philippines from conservative Christian groups ahead of her concerts in Manila, but seemed in good spirits despite the controversy, tweeting, “And don’t worry, if I get thrown in jail in Manila, Beyonce will just bail me out. Sold out night 2 in the Philippines. I love it here!”