The Government decided to cancel the permit for Watain's concert last month when it received reports that mainstream Christians were very concerned and offended by the band, Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday.
And a survey of Singaporeans by government feedback unit Reach found that two in three supported the move, he noted. Among Christians, 86 per cent were supportive of the move to disallow the concert, the Reach poll found.
"The initial assessment was that if they do not perform offensively in Singapore, it should be okay," he noted. Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) officers found otherwise.
"My officers and I take in account both the reaction of the Christian community and the consequent security issues in the medium and longer term," he said. "When we concluded that was the mainstream, widespread Christian view, and assessed the consequent security issues, we decided that the concert had to be cancelled," he added.
Reach polled 680 Singapore citizens aged 15 and above from March 11 to 15, a few days after the concert was cancelled hours before it was to take place on March 7.
Speaking in Parliament on restricting hate speech to maintain racial and religious harmony, Mr Shanmugam said the Info-comm Media Development Authority (IMDA) received an application for the concert at the end of December.
MHA was informed of the application and objected to the concert.
IMDA then requested a reconsideration of MHA's position and proposed detailed requirements for the concert. These included an R18 rating, no religious symbols used during the concert, no references to religion in the band's on-stage dialogue, no content that denigrated any faith or promoted any cult practices, and no ritualistic or satanic acts.
MHA told IMDA that while it was still concerned, it would leave it to IMDA to decide on issuing a restricted licence. IMDA did so on March 5. On March 7, two days before the concert, MHA asked IMDA to consider cancelling the concert. IMDA did so.
Mr Shanmugam said MHA had received reports that mainstream Christians were very concerned and offended by the band. MHA officers met Christian leaders and leaders of other religions, and MPs - both Christian and non-Christian - gave feedback. Mr Shanmugam made the judgment call to cancel.
He pointed to Watain's song lyrics that denigrate Christianity and controversial statements by Watain singer Erik Danielsson. The singer once told an interviewer that he "totally encourages any kind of terrorist acts committed in the name of Watain, absolutely, that's the way rock 'n' roll works".
Mr Shanmugam said: "He knows that his music attracts fanatics with extreme ideas. He is aware of the lawlessness, violence, crime, madness that can follow."
He also noted that Mr Danielsson had said he had "always been encouraging music to take a physical form". The singer had also cited church burnings in Norway in the early 1990s and said: "To me, it's the very natural consequences of rock 'n' roll, in the end, being the Devil's music."