Erykah Badu, well known for doing some pretty risque stunts, has been banned in Malaysia over a promotional photo with the arabic word for Allah temporarily tattooed on her chest. A local paper unknowingly published the photo to promote the concert and has since publicly apologized following complaints from politicians and religious groups. The Information Ministry subsequently banned Badu, who was already in the country, from performing at an upcoming jazz festival in an attempt to prevent “various situations that may lead to social excitement…”
Badu has said that image was inspired by the 1973 film, The Holy Mountain, a surrealist film directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky, and was clearly not produced as an insult to the Muslim world, which includes Muslim-majority Malaysia.
Badu has responded to the ban in a pretty classy way, though, stating that, “It’s sad, because we traveled a long way, but I’m totally understanding of (the minister’s) protection of the laws and its people. He doesn’t want anything to happen. I’m good with that.” Malaysian media seem to be taking that as an apology, which is probably stretching it, but the daughter of Ms. Jackson herself is definitely taking the high road here, going so far as to explain her understanding of the way art is often misinterpreted in religious countries:
“I think art is often misunderstood in the realm of religion, and it’s OK,” she said. “In America, it’s a lot different. Art is also misunderstood but it is not such a harsh gesture to promote the names of God. I am learning and understanding about Islam in other countries more as we travel.
While we could go on and on about how awesome Ms. Badu is, her handling of this unfortunate situation is probably example enough for now.
• Erykah Badu: http://www.erykahbadu.com