02/23/2018, 14.20
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Rapper arrested for insulting Islam with a video for the Year of the Dog

Dancers with dog masks make suggestive moves in front of a building believed to be a mosque. The musician defends himself saying said that it was the Prime Minister's Office. This year's Chinese New Year has been a sensitive issue. Dogs are deemed impure by Muslims who are 60 per cent of the population.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Malaysian police have arrested Wee Meng Chee, an ethnic Chinese rapper who goes by the name of Namewee because he allegedly “insulted Islam and could negatively impact racial unity and harmony''.

On Sunday, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said that police started an investigation into Namewee’s latest controversial music video, released at the start of the Lunar New Year, which ended yesterday with charges and an arrest.

Police acted after receiving four public complaints about the singer’s video titled ‘Like a dog’, which refers to the Year of the Dog.

In it, Wee is sitting in a chair in a square in Putrajaya, Malaysia’s administrative capital, as dancers wearing dog masks dance around him, performing some moves deemed "obscene" (pictured).

A green domed building in the background led some people to speculate that it was filmed in front of a mosque, which sparked criticism, but Wee later said it was the Prime Minister's Office.

Dogs are considered impure by Muslims, who represent 60 per cent of Malaysia’s 32 million people. Several ministers called for Wee’s arrest, but the rapper defended the video as a form of entertainment, noting that he had no intention to disrespect any race or religion.

Malaysian Muslims generally practise a moderate form of Islam, but religious tensions have intensified in recent years due to an increasingly widespread conservative attitude among many Muslims.

At the same time race and religion are sensitive issues in Malaysia, where the Malay ethnic majority has generally lived in harmony with the country’s Chinese and Indian minorities, respectively 24 and 8 per cent, since the 1969 racial riots that left at least 200 people dead.

Chinese New Year is a major event across the country, but the Year of the Dog had been a sensitive subject. Some stores have even avoided showing dog images for fear of causing resentment among Muslims.

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