Malaysia's government has barred Muslims from a concert by U.S. hip-hop stars the Black Eyed Peas next month because the event is organized by Irish beer giant Guinness, an official said Thursday.
The prohibition comes amid a clampdown on alcohol consumption among Malaysia's Muslim majority. A Muslim woman who drank beer in public was sentenced to caning by an Islamic court last month, though authorities this week agreed to review the penalty. Officials also recently curbed retail sales of liquor in a central state.
In family and personal matters, Muslims in Malaysia are governed by Shariah or Islamic law, which forbids the consumption of alcohol.
The Black Eyed Peas will perform at a theme park near Kuala Lumpur on Sept. 25 as part of worldwide celebrations marking the 250th anniversary of Guinness' flagship brewery in Dublin. Malaysia's largest city is one of five places hosting Guinness' concerts.
The Malaysian show's official Web site said "the party is only open to non-Muslims aged 18 years and above." Previous major pop concerts in Malaysia, including one by the Black Eyed Peas in 2007, have always been open to Muslims.
"Muslims cannot attend. Non-Muslims can go and have fun," an official at the Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture told the Associated Press.
She said the concert would not have been permitted at all under normal circumstances because government regulations forbid alcohol companies from organizing concerts. But authorities made an exception on the hopes the event would boost tourism, the official said on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to make public statements. Guinness must not use its logo in concert publicity material, she said.
It was not immediately clear how the ban on Muslims will be enforced. Concert organizers did not immediately respond to a request for comments.
Ethnic Malays comprise nearly 60% of Malaysia's 28 million people and are all legally considered Muslim, while the rest of the country is mainly ethnic Chinese and Indians, most of whom are Buddhist, Christian or Hindu.
The Black Eyed Peas have enjoyed phenomenal success this year. The foursome has topped Billboard's Hot 100 singles charts for the past 20 consecutive weeks, the most ever by an act.
Their performance next month is the latest to be hit by restrictions in Malaysia. Shows by Gwen Stefani and Avril Lavigne in recent years faced protests by conservative Muslim Malaysians over immodest clothes, forcing the artists to don attire that revealed little skin.
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