Artist arrested after allegedly using Spotify playlist to insult Malaysia's Queen

Mr Fahmi Reza (above), a Malaysian graphic artist, was detained by police for allegedly insulting Malaysia's Queen, Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, by making a Spotify playlist that mocked a comment on the Queen's Instagram account. PHOTO:
Mr Fahmi Reza (above), a Malaysian graphic artist, was detained by police for allegedly insulting Malaysia's Queen, Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, by making a Spotify playlist that mocked a comment on the Queen's Instagram account. PHOTO: BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR • A Malaysian artist was detained by police for allegedly insulting the country's Queen by making a Spotify playlist that mocked a comment on her Instagram account. The arrest was condemned by rights groups as a clampdown on free speech.

Police said in a statement on Friday that graphic artist Fahmi Reza had uploaded a Spotify playlist with songs containing the word "jealousy", with a photo of Malaysia's Queen, Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah.

Mr Fahmi, who is being investigated under Malaysia's sedition and communications laws, had also posted a link to the playlist on his Facebook account, police criminal investigations director Huzir Mohamed said.

The post came after a reported remark made on the Queen's Instagram account last week in response to a follower asking if the palace chefs were all vaccinated.

According to local media, the Queen's Instagram account responded by asking if the follower was jealous, which caused an uproar on social media. The Queen's Instagram account was briefly deactivated, and when reinstated, did not have the remark.

A palace spokesman did not immediately respond to a Reuters query about the remark and Mr Fahmi's arrest.

Mr Fahmi was once sentenced to jail in Malaysia for portraying former prime minister Najib Razak as a clown, though his sentence was later commuted.

The artist's arrest comes amid increasing concerns from rights groups over a crackdown on dissent under Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Amnesty International Malaysia said on Friday that satirical works should not be seen as a crime.

Malaysia fell 18 places on Reporters Without Borders' 2021 World Press Freedom Index - the steepest drop from last year among all countries.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 25, 2021, with the headline 'Artist arrested after allegedly using Spotify playlist to insult Malaysia's Queen'. Subscribe