Lady Gaga, Indonesia Protests: Islamic Group Picked on Pop Star to Publicize Its Agenda
Apostasy Movement, Indonesian Mujaheeds Council and the notoriously thuggish Islamic Defender's Front, better known as FPI, are quick to say they go after provocative dangdut performances. From time to time their followers jump in vans and ransack dangdut bars and nightclubs in the capital, Jakarta, and its outskirts.
But they know this won't get them the kind of attention they crave, said Andrew Weintraub, a professor of music at the University of Pittsburgh and author of the book "Dangdut Stories."
"Lady Gaga is a big name," he said. "It's a big stage for conservative Muslim organizations to promote their own agenda. They'll get a lot of attention internationally -- which is also what makes the state nervous."
All 52,000 tickets for the concert Lady Gaga planned to give June 3 sold out within days, but members of the FPI had vowed to meet her at the airport if she dared step off the plane. Others bought tickets to her show saying, if it went ahead, they'd wreak havoc from inside the packed stadium.
As the weekslong controversy raged, conservative politicians and members of more mainstream Muslim organizations piled onto the anti-Gaga wag on. And police -- for the first time ever -- denied a permit to one of the many Western stars passing through, citing security. Lady Gaga eventually pulled the plug.
"We hold huge concerts here all the time," said Desi Anwar, a local television anchor, noting that crowd control is nothing new. "This is what happens when the government is perceived as weak and not consistent."
Indonesia is often held up by U.S and others as a beacon of how Islam and democracy can coexist, and in many ways they are right. Most of the secular nation's 210 million Muslims practice a moderate form of the faith and accept differences in others, with schoolgirls in headscarves regularly seen in shopping malls walking