Erykah Badu Banned in Malaysia For Allah Body Art

by Thembi Ford

For the first time in recent years, an American performer has been banned from performing in the country of Malaysia.

Erykah Badu was scheduled to perform in the capital Kuala Lumpur when a semi-nude photograph surfaced of the singer with the word “Allah” written on her body in Arabic. The photo originally appeared on Badu’s website, but Malaysia’s The Star, which is the country’s largest English paper, published the photograph on Monday.

The public outcry was widespread: Muslim groups said that Badu is a poor role model for Malaysian women and The Star apologized for publishing the photo and is now facing possible suspension by the government. A government body found the photograph “an insult to Islam and a very serious offense,” adding that the photo “triggered public criticism that could jeopardize national security and cause a negative impact to the government’s image,” and ordered that Badu never perform in the country.

Erykah Badu’s reputation for pushing the envelope with nudity and sacred ideas is just as strong as Malaysia’s reputation for not playing games when it comes to public dissent and foreigners disturbing the country’s way of life. One has to wonder what the promoters of the concert expected in booking her, and especially what The Star expected once they published a photo that seems to have caused such universal disapproval.

What do you think? Does it make sense for Malaysia to ban Erykah Badu over this photo?


  • modern lady

    Erykah, girl-give it up. It was stupid when Madonna did it in the ‘Like a Prayer’ video-& you’re stupid now. Stop using religion to get attention. This is NOT the time in history to be bold like that.

  • Val

    Wait a minute; wasn’t Beyonce just banned by Malaysia a couple of years ago because her shows were too provocative?

  • Mr. Man

    The whole world don’t center around celeberties, and quite often folks like Erykah forget that until life reminds them that they’re only just some person that sings. No more no less.
    Yes she’s being very disrespectful.
    She’s showing no regard to what her actions could mean to people in that part of the world who actually take their faith seriously.
    I’d ban her tail too.

  • sli

    Why don’t the government start screening everybody before they’re booked–since they want to get bent out of shape about people disturbing their “way of life.” That will save the promoters and artists a lot of grief.

  • sli


  • Mr. Man

    It seems as though she would have been ok if the star didn’t post the picture, which was stupid on their part….

    I’d say how about the artist and their camp do some basic research on the country’s belief system and Gov. laws before they enter.

  • AustralianGirl

    Ive always liked Erykahs music, however – what a stupid tattoo idea!

    And how ignorant – or deliberately controversial – to pose topless, with ‘allah’ tattoos on the chest.

  • Tonton Michel

    “Muslim groups said that Badu is a poor role model” I been said that.

  • Kenneth

    This is of no fault of her own, but that of The Star and in part the government of Malaysia. It was all well and good and she’s supposed to perform as scheduled but some dim wit editor decided to publish that of all the photos that could have been. Malaysia has very delicate balancing acts in governing her multiracial multireligious demographics, if things aren’t too overly exposed or creating a outburst, they usually go on fine, which is why she’s there to perform in the first place.

  • Devoted Muslim

    @ kenneth

    Don’t blame other!!. You are as much ignorant as her. Thank Allah that this thing came out after all. Do not play this sort of things ever again. Muslims now are more sensitive than you think because they have been ridiculed, molested, oppressed, colonize and whatnot. What is she trying to prove by putting that WORD on her chest? I pray that she repents and will never be an ignorant person ever again.

  • Kenneth

    @Devoted Muslim

    I’m speaking strictly in the context of her having her concert banned unnecessarily due to some editor’s screwup. If The Star didn’t publish that particular picture of her the concert would’ve gone on, and there won’t be such an outburst. Mind you before any concert can be held organizers have to apply for a permit and it was actually approved by the very government that now bans it. So yes, I’d still blame the editor of The Star for this oversight. About the tattoo, that’s a different issue to talk about but right now the issue here is we’re seeing some finicky moves made by the government of Malaysia, who initially allowed her and then later retracted. I’d like to see her perform in other muslim majority countries and has no issues about it, that’ll be a slap in the face for Malaysia

  • jamesfrmphilly

    if one sister can jeopardize national security imagine what 5 million would do to them.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    a bomber blows up an entire mosque at worship, they don’t get upset.
    muslim outrage seems highly selective to me.

  • mamareese

    Ya’ll know this pic is not new at all right? They are just a very conservative country….I don’t think she did this for shock value at all. Ya’ll act like she has not been an outside of the box type person all these years. She shouldn’t have to shut down her creativity just because someone doesn’t like it. Move around and move on if they don’t want her to preform.

  • mamareese

    Amen!!!! So true.

  • sli

    Exactly! It’s an old picture that shows her with temporary tattoos. Much ado about nothing.

  • lulu

    i love erykah but she is crazy

  • arief

    what badu’s did was wrong but what star did was much more worse because star have being one of the bigest newspaper i malaysia and they should know what they should and should not publish, it is ok if they publish it due to banned badu from coming malaysia…
    what i don’t understand is there are muslim staff working at star but it still being publish and harm have being done…goverment should do something to ensure it will not happen again

  • joankmorris

    yes, beyonce was banned from preforming in Malaysia after she refused to change her outfits for the show so they can be appropriate. artists must understand that when you preform in a muslim country, you must play by their rules and follow them.

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