KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Muslims in Malaysia have been barred from attending a concert by U.S. hip hop band the Black Eyed Peas sponsored by Guinness which is owned by the world’s biggest spirits group Diageo.
The move comes after a Malaysian Islamic court sentenced a 32-year Muslim woman to be caned after she was caught drinking beer in a hotel and at a time when an opposition Islamic party has moved against beer sales.
The concert, part of celebrations of Guinness 250th birthday, asks on its website (www.arthursday.com.my) “Are you a non-Muslim aged 18 years and above?” and if the response is no, access is not allowed.
Muslims account for 55 percent of the 27 million people in this Southeast Asian country and are barred from consuming alcohol although the rules are regularly flouted, especially in big cities like the capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia’s Guinness Anchor which sells Guinness and other brands here had sales of 1.2 billion Malaysian ringgit ($340.6 million) in 2008.
Even without alcohol, foreign bands are subject to scrutiny. Earlier this week, the Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) said it wanted Danish band Michael Learns to Rock banned from performing as it would cause immorality.
Since 2007, PAS, the country’s second largest political group measured by party membership, has campaigned against performances by the likes of Beyonce, Rihanna, Gwen Stefani and Avril Lavigne.
($1=3.523 Malaysian Ringgit)
Reporting by David Chance; editing by Sanjeev Miglani