Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, an American chanteuse also known as Lady Gaga, has been touring Asia to packed houses. She was to have performed in Jakarta, Indonesia, last Sunday, June 3, but had to cancel. So no show for Indonesia but perhaps a lesson or two in tolerance.
Lady Gaga opted to play Indonesia because she has fans there. According to news reports, more than 50,000 tickets had been sold, and that did not sit well with Muslim hardliners. They called her a messenger of the devil and issued threats of violence should the concert go forward.
Indonesia has more Muslims than any other nation, some 86 percent of a population of more than 248 million. Protestants and Catholics make up less than 10 percent of Indonesians, who are ethnically diverse. For some observers Indonesia is the model for how an Islam can be compatible with democracy and tolerance, but the Lady Gaga incident is troubling.
Her show is indeed sexually and religiously provocative, in the aggressive style of Madonna. Christians in the Philippines and Korea had protested her act, which some considered blasphemous, but Lady Gaga’s show went on in those nations. Her fans attended and those who didn’t like her saved their money and found other things to do.
In Indonesia, a hardline group called the Islamic Defenders Front threatened to prevent Lady Gaga from getting off the plane. Following threats of violence, the police refused to issue a permit for her show, prompting the singer to cancel. So the Islamic Defenders Front got what they wanted.
They were not content to let their fellow Indonesians decide for themselves.