Muslims have been banned from a Black Eyed Peas concert next month because the event is organised by Guinness, an official said Thursday. The prohibition comes amid a clampdown on alcohol consumption among Malaysia's Muslim majority. A Muslim woman who drank beer in public was sentenced to caning by an Islamic court last month, though authorities this week agreed to review the penalty.
On the face of it the decision of the Middle Eastern nation (sub editor please check) Malaysia to ban Muslims from attending a Black Eyed Peas concert seems wholly appropriate. What right do neo cons have to force American music along with Coca Cola and McDonalds down the throats of the indigenous Malays who like other Arabs have great pride in their own culture who were building the Pyramids whilst Europeans were still living in mud huts?
That the Black Eyed Peas are to be sponsored by the global corporate brand, Guiness, only adds to that feeling of outrage at their insensitive arrogance.
And yet, and yet I feel a deep sense of unease against singling out an African American pop group in this manner. Do the feelings of global Muslims really give an excuse to send African Americans to the back of the bus again?
Furthermore as in other Caribbean Islands (subeditor please check) blacks are still greatly discriminated against in Malaysia- in downtown Kuala Lumpa, just a few miles from the border with Pakistan, some years ago I didn't see a single black face and there are certainly no blacks in the government. Of course this is not the fault of the Malaysians themselves, the country was for many years under the yoke of British colonialism and even in the post colonial era the scars of racism left by the oppressors still mark this society.
By banning Muslims from attending the concert are unconsciously mimicking the worst of their colonisers behaviour. As it is they are denying Malaysian Muslims the opportunity to see a politically aware group who also know what is like to suffer discrimination, whether it be because of the colour of their skin, their political activism or their lead singer's status as a survivor of adult incontinence.
What Malaysia doesn't understand is that music is very important to black people. Not just in that it's something to listen to, but that traditionally, along with sport, it's been the only way to rise out of inner-city poverty. When they tries to drive those musicians out of business, they are cutting off their escape route.
Contrary to first impressions the 'Peas aren't politically unaware and have written powerfully about American imperialism- "In the USA, the big CIA The Bloods and The Crips and the KKK". One has to wonder whether exposing the CIA is what has turned Malaysia (An American ally lest we forget) against them.In fact not only are they turning their backs on black people but on all oppressed people of colour who have been victimised by the CIA- Palestinians, Iraqis Symbionese, Nicaraguans, Klingons, Polynesians and Mexicans.
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