The British rock band Queen and controversial Malaysian rapper Namewee have something in common. The lyrics of some of their songs contain Arabic words, which some Malaysians feel should be used only by Muslims.
The invocation “Bismi Allah (In the name of God)” is used in one of Queen’s biggest hits, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and the word “Allah” is used in Namewee’s latest video.
Freddie Mercury, the late singer for Queen, must be turning in his grave, wondering what Malaysians are fussing about.
Namewee was arrested on Aug 21 at KLIA upon his return from overseas. Apparently, the mention of Allah in the video was not the reason for the arrest. He is being investigated under the Penal Code for allegedly “defiling a place of worship with intention to insult the religion.”
The other performers in the video will also be investigated. Interpol has been asked to help in the search for them.
Is this really the best use of Interpol’s time and resources?
Why has Interpol’s help not been sought to locate the main characters in the US Department of Justice’s allegations of abuse of Malaysian taxpayers’ money? Again, Namewee has exposed the hypocrisy of our authorities.
Many Muslims who have watched the video see nothing wrong with it. The people who made the police report against Namewee have managed to distract us from the more important issues which plague this country.
More important, however, is that they have ignored the first lesson of marketing. The have succeeded in boosting Namewee’s popularity. His reputation has soared while Malaysia’s has taken a nosedive. The video has been given free publicity. Namewee now doesn’t need to spend money to promote it.
[Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist]