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.
Clarkson, who turns 28 on Saturday, has released four albums since 2005, selling over 10 million copies in the United States alone and winning two Grammys. The Indonesia concert is part of a world tour to promote her latest album, “All I Ever Wanted.”
Even her diehard fans took her to task on her Facebook page.
“All you ever wanted was to grow up,” wrote Karen McLean. “Time to act responsibly and get rid of the tobacco industry role in your life.”
Indonesia is a nation of inveterate tobacco consumers with the Globe reporting that a third of the country’s 230 million people are smokers, and the habit on the rise.
Two years ago an affiliate of the U.S. giant Philip Morris removed its logo from posters promoting a concert for the singer Alicia Keys after similar controversy.
Writing by David Fox; Editing by Miral Fahmy