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Black-metal band Watain’s gig cancelled, after MHA raised security concerns

SINGAPORE — The authorities have pulled the plug on a gig by Swedish black-metal band Watain, hours before it is supposed to perform here, saying there are concerns over the band’s history of denigrating religions and promoting violence.

Black-metal band Watain’s gig cancelled, after MHA raised security concerns

The Info-communications Media Development Authority decided to cancel black-metal band Watain’s gig, following security concerns recently raised by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

SINGAPORE — The authorities have pulled the plug on a gig by Swedish black-metal band Watain, hours before it is supposed to perform here, saying there are concerns over the band’s history of denigrating religions and promoting violence.

The Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) had earlier allowed the gig, which was supposed to be held at Ebenex Live Space in Upper Paya Lebar on Thursday (March 7), with a rating of “Restricted 18 (R18)”.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday afternoon, Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said that there were “lots of concerns expressed” over the past few days about the concert.

An online petition started yesterday calling for a ban on Watain, as well as another Swedish metal band Soilwork, gained more than 15,000 signatures. Soilwork is scheduled to perform at the same venue in October.

Given the band’s history, IMDA said in a press statement on Thursday that it had imposed further “stringent requirements”, including the removal of songs which are religiously offensive, that the band cannot make references to religion or use religious symbols, and that “no ritualistic acts are performed on stage”.

But the IMDA said it decided to cancel the gig, following security concerns recently raised by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

“MHA has today provided its assessment that the performance should not proceed,” the statement said.

Mr Shanmugam said that the ministry conducted a “further security assessment yesterday and decided that in light of the responses that the band has evoked, and taking into account (its history), it will be against public order interest and will affect our religious and social harmony if we allowed the concert to go ahead”.

When asked if MHA was aware of the petition and if it influenced the decision to cancel the concert, Mr Shanmugam said the petition “per se did not influence the decision”.

“But certainly, the reactions — and we’ve been discussing with senior clerics, we’ve been discussing with people in the community — and our assessment took into account their viewpoints. We also discussed with our own MPs (Members of Parliament) as well,” he added.

In its statement, the IMDA said the MHA “has expressed serious concerns about the concert, given the band’s history of denigrating religions and promoting violence, which has potential to cause enmity and disrupt Singapore’s social harmony”.

“Watain is known for its Satanist views and some of their previous controversial performances involved animal carcasses and throwing pig’s blood on its audience.

“The band also espouses anti-Christian views and advocates Satanism through their songs, and endorses violence.

Mr Shanmugam also noted that Watain has a history of being “very offensive towards Christians, Jews, supportive of violence, including encouraging the burning of churches”.

“They’ve even said they encourage any terrorist acts committed in the name of the band, and various other statements which are quite offensive,” he added.

When asked how this cancellation differs from Singapore’s previous bans against some religious preachers, Mr Shanmugam replied that he did not want to equate preachers with bands.

“For music and art events and performances, I think the general approach is, is it going to be offensive? Is what they are going to do offensive in Singapore? Is it going to be contrary to our rules, laws? Is it going to be against public security, public order?” he said.

“I think, to some extent, you can look at what they’ve done elsewhere. It’s got to be (decided on a) case by case (basis),” he added.

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