Kelly Clarkson flies into smoke storm
JAKARTA (Reuters) - Chart-topping American singer Kelly Clarkson has sparked a smoke storm because her planned concert in Indonesia next week is sponsored by a cigarette manufacturer.
Clarkson, who shot to fame in 2002 after winning the hit TV show American Idol in its debut season, is due to appear at the 20,000-capacity Senayan indoor stadium in the capital, Jakarta, on April 29.
Giant billboards and posters featuring the singer can be seen across the city's skyline. Emblazoned across the top is the name of the concert's sponsor, LA Lights, a brand of cigarettes made by local manufacturer PT Djarum.
Local religious and youth groups have been vociferous in their criticism of the singer, but the controversy has also spread to social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Clarkson used her blog (iamkelly.wordpress.com/) on Thursday to write that she was in a "lose-lose" situation, saying she was unaware of the sponsorship link, but also did not want to disappoint her fans by cancelling.
"I think the hardest part of situations like this is getting personally attacked for something I was completely unaware of and being used as some kind of political pawn," she wrote.
Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's second biggest Muslim group and representing about 30 million members, has declared smoking "haram," or forbidden, and urged supporters to boycott the concert, the Jakarta Globe reported on Thursday.
The Indonesian Council of Ulema, meanwhile, the country's highest religious authority and which considers smoking undesirable but not forbidden, also urged young people to stay away -- although also took a more pragmatic line.
"Smoking and attending a concert sponsored by cigarette companies are two different things," an official was quoted as saying. Continued...