The day before Badu was scheduled to perform in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian Information Minister announced the show would be canceled as a result of a circulating promotional photograph of Badu with the Arabic word “Allah” painted on her shoulder. The Malaysian government said that the image was “an insult to Islam.”
Rais Yatim, the Minister of Information, Communications and Culture, feared that allowing Badu to perform “may develop into various situations that may lead to social excitement, and quarrels may break out due to religious sensitivities as had happened in other places in the world which might lead to excessive and uncontrollable excitement,” reported Bernama.
Badu expressed her disappointment in the ban at a press conference held on Wednesday. The singer said she understands the position of the political leaders.
Badu soon took to Twitter and explained that her body art was inspired by a 1970’s film of a female character who wore all symbols and names of God on her body. “I love Malaysia and its people,” she tweeted. “Art is often misunderstood in the realm of religion. My body art has ALL the names of God. Not just 1.”
There is no word on whether Malaysia will invite Badu to perform in the future. When asked if she would return to Malaysia, Badu said, “Absolutely. I have faith in people’s ability to evolve.”