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Lady Gaga's cancelled concert a blow to tolerance in Indonesia? (+video)

Lady Gaga cancelled her biggest show in Asia because of Islamist vigilante threats, which has some worrying about a return of Islamist militancy to the Muslim world's largest country.

Why Lady Gaga concert was cancelled in Indonesia
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For Lady Gaga’s Indonesian fans, Sunday was a day of mourning. For the country’s 240 million citizens, most of them Muslim, it was the culmination of weeks of debate over whether Islamist hardliners are gaining ground in Indonesia

Lady Gaga cancelled her sold-out concert in Jakarta, the biggest on her Asia tour, Sunday due to threats from a group of Islamists who call the American pop star a “devil worshiper” and complained that her style and dance moves are pornographic. 

The Lady Gaga saga is one of many incidents recently, where Islamist groups have threatened or used violence against what they say are attempts to destroy Indonesia’s religious and moral fabric. Some worry recent events could mark a resurgence of violent Islamist activism that could ultimately threaten the democratic gains Indonesia has made since the end of the Soeharto dictatorship in 1998.

“This is part of the dilemma of the transition to democracy,” says Ulil Abshar Abdalla, head of the department for policy studies within the ruling Democrat Party. “On one hand we have the phenomena of rising intolerance, and on the other hand we have a weak government unable to address this issue.”

Indonesia is a secular state and has made strides by allowing much greater freedom of speech and expression since the end of Soeharto's rein.


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