Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam provided several reasons why the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) decided not to allow Swedish metal band Watain to perform in Singapore.
Shanmugam gave these reasons at the Dadah Itu Haram appreciation lunch on March 9, the second time he has commented publicly about the band.
On March 7, Shanmugam told the media that the Watain concert was cancelled out of interest for public order, and religious and social harmony.
Shanmugam said the MHA did a further security assessment a day before the concert on March 6 and advised the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) to cancel the show.
Shanmugam: "[I]t’s four-letter words on Jesus Christ, on Christianity, on religion, abusing the cross"
The first reason Shanmugam gave was that Watain's music contain vulgar, anti-Christian lyrics.
"I saw the lyrics – it’s four-letter words on Jesus Christ, on Christianity, on religion, abusing the cross – everything that is so far out that I can’t see how we could have agreed to it."
By analysing the lyrics, you might have expected Shanmugam to be an expert or a connoisseur of metal bands.
Shanmugam, however, told his audience that he didn't know anything about bands and particularly "black metal"
Second, Shanmugam said that Watain's music contains anti-Christian messages that were as bad as anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic messages that were banned.
Shanmugam revealed that Christian preachers told him that what Watain are saying is "far worse" than the Danish cartoon about Prophet Muhammad and the Satanic Verses book by Salman Rushdie, and both were banned in Singapore.
In fact, the preachers told him that "what these people are saying is far worse, it is a hundred times worse about Christianity", and they asked him, "how come you would allow that?"
And the preachers inferred that Shanmugam was treating the Muslim community differently compared to the Christian community.
Third, Shanmugam wanted young Singaporeans to understand that Singapore is a multi-racial country, quite different from a Christian country like Sweden.
And therefore, the authorities' considerations are different too.
Shanmugam said that many of these bands come from Christian countries, where their societies are different.
He emphasised that there is a need to educate young Singaporeans about the importance of treating others the same way that they are expected to be treated.
"A photo went viral on the Internet. The photo has got mainly young Malay men showing the one-finger sign with Watain – it was a post by the Watain band, criticising the Singapore government, telling us to “go fly kite”.
The picture is of primarily Malay young men – I think they went to the concert, got angry, they are all showing the one-finger sign. In a multi-racial society, they don’t understand that the concert is anti-Christian, it criticises Jesus and Christianity and churches and they talk about burning churches and so on. You have a group of Malay young men, showing the one-finger sign, supporting the group. Next time you will have the Christians doing the same thing."
Shanmugam is likely to be referring to the photo below (on the left).
In fact, Shanmugam proposed something rather unorthodox to his Malay-Muslim audience at the lunch:
"If you haven’t seen the photograph, you should go and get it.
It is going viral across the Christian community. They won’t realise that this a small group of Malays, but they may think is this what Muslims think of us? So now we have to send the message that this is not what the Muslim community thinks.
These are black metal group supporters, they are not the mainstream community."
So here's a sanitised version for you to show your friends.
Just in case someone decides to start another Change.org petition about how offensive the image is.