Malaysian rapper rapped for 'insulting Islam'

Malaysian rapper Namewee at the 27th Golden Melody Awards in Taipei on June 25. The 33-year-old could face up to two years in jail, a fine, or both, for his controversial music video which was filmed in several places of worship.
Malaysian rapper Namewee at the 27th Golden Melody Awards in Taipei on June 25. The 33-year-old could face up to two years in jail, a fine, or both, for his controversial music video which was filmed in several places of worship. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

KUALA LUMPUR • A Malaysian rapper was remanded in custody by a court yesterday for a music video titled "Oh My God" which allegedly insults Islam because it was partly filmed in a mosque.

Namewee, whose real name is Wee Meng Chee, will be held for four days, according to Penang district police chief Mior Faridalathrash Wahid.

He said the rapper, 33, was being investigated for defiling a place of worship with the intent of insulting a religion.

The rapper, who is also a film director, could possibly face up to two years in jail, a fine, or both, according to local media.

The word "Allah" and sounds of the Islamic call to prayer were said to have been used in the four-minute Mandarin music video.

The video featured footage of Namewee and other singers, dressed in outfits representing various cultures and religions, performing inside a Penang mosque and a church as well as Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist temples.

Namewee was arrested at Kuala Lumpur International Airport when he returned from overseas late on Sunday.

Investigations were ongoing after he was remanded by the Penang court.

Malaysia generally practises a moderate brand of Islam. But religious tensions have simmered in recent years, with Muslim moderates and followers of other religions expressing concern at a steady rise in conservative Islamic attitudes.

Last month, several groups filed police reports claiming that Namewee's music video had insulted Islam. In response, he posted a YouTube video explaining that he had no intention of insulting any religion and that the song was written to "promote harmony".

Namewee, who is also popular in Taiwan, is no stranger to controversy and has ruffled political and religious feathers on several occasions over the years.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2016, with the headline 'Malaysian rapper rapped for 'insulting Islam''. Print Edition | Subscribe