Malaysian authorities see the music as part of “black metal cult”
|By Meredith Holmgren
Malaysian authorities are once again targeting black metal as a source of satanic cult rituals. On 5 October 2005, Malaysian officials announced an investigation of “heavy metal cult” members, who they believe “practice animal sacrifices and destroy religious texts including the Koran” (AP, 6 October 2005). Many believe that this cult uses heavy metal music to recruit new members.
Additionally, this caused problems for music labels attempting to ship merchandise in/out of Malaysia. DemonZend, a prominent independent label based in Malaysia, reportedly lost “5,000 US dollars due to customs confiscation” (2), and Bilharzia, a local metal band, said that they were placed under surveillance, resulting in an inability to receive mail from outside of Malaysia if it related to their music/scene (3).
Although Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Norian Mai stated that “black metal cult” activities were more social than criminal (The Star, 22 July 2001), it still warranted cabinet discussion by the federal government of Malaysia. One Malaysian state, Negri Sembilan, went as far as to officially outlaw heavy metal music, declaring it haram.
Some school officials undertook efforts to strip search their students to “check for tattoos, crucifixes worn upside-down or other alleged signs of belonging to the ‘Black Metal’ cult”. Many of these students, who were subsequently detained, were required to undergo treatment which included counselling, rehabilitation and ingestion of an herbal medicine — administered by a private drug company — to “stimulate thinking” (BBC, 13 August 2001).
Tan Sooi Beng echoes these sentiments, noting, “the crackdown on black metal occurred at a time when the country was experiencing economic downturn and political turmoil… Academics and opposition leaders say that the anti-black metal operations were part of the crackdown on political opposition and discontent with Prime Minister, Mathathir Mohamad’s administration” (Dissonant Voices, 2002).
Article 19 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold an opinion without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas.” In Malaysia, Article 10 of the Federal Constitution states, “every citizen has the right to freedom of expression and speech.” But despite these guidelines, CNN reported, “Mahathir has said he will not allow Malaysia to be ruined by freedom of speech” (CNN, 3 August 2001).
The Star, 5 October, 2005:
More on Heavy Metal in Malaysia: