Muslims Allowed After All

The Black Eyed Peas are scheduled to play Sept. 25 at the Sunway Lagoon in Malaysia, which alarmed the country’s Information, Communication and Culture Ministry when it realized the concert is one of a series of global events celebrating the 250th anniversary of the opening of Guinness Brewery.

According to Malaysian regulations, alcoholic drink makers are not allowed to sponsor public concerts.

However, the ministry is keen to help the local tourism industry, which has been adversely affected by the worldwide recession and swine flu epidemic. At first, a compromise was announced in which concert would go on, but Muslims would not be allowed to attend.

However, the ministry reversed this decision Sept. 2 and said Muslims would be allowed to buy tickets. No details were given by the ministry as to why it changed its mind. However, moderate Muslims complained after the initial announcement of the ban.

Though Malaysia considers itself basically a nation of Muslims, who tend to shun alcohol for religious reasons, it is also one of the top 10 countries in the world in terms of Guinness consumption. That’s why the company chose to hold one of its anniversary concerts at the Sunway Lagoon Surf Beach.

The government is especially sensitive to such concerns at the moment.

A Muslim mother of two was recently sentenced by an Islamic shariah court to a caning for drinking beer, a story that has received a lot of foreign press coverage.

Also, fundamentalist political groups have protested a concert by Michael Learns To Rock, since the Sept. 5 date for the event falls during the holy month of Ramadan.

The Black Eyed Peas played a concert in Malaysia in 2007 with no restrictions whatsoever.