Following an online petition that circulated and was signed by more than 16,000 people in support of banning heavy-metal shows in Singapore, Swedish corpse-paint commandos Watain have had a show canceled in the island nation.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (or IMDA) has previously given the green light to the performance with a Restricted 18 rating under the following conditions: "Given the band's history, IMDA 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."
Despite this approval, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) shut things down over their "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." Citing the band's references to satanism and anti-Christian ideology, the MHA overruled the IMDA on the matter, following the lead of the online petition. While Buddhism is the most widely practiced religion in the formerly colonized nation, Christianity has been adopted by the approximately 18.8 percent of the citizens, just barely edging out those who claim no religion at 18.5 percent (source: Department of Statistics).
Channel NewsAsia interviewed some disappointed fans, including one going by the name Ucox who said, "My money, rupiah, I spent so much money to get here ... Their music changed my life. I wake up in the morning and I have new spirit for working," negating claims that Watain's music promotes death and suicide. "It's like somebody stabbed me in the back."
Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam addressed the public in the video below, outlining the full story and telling the press, "If you look at the band, they do have a history. Very offensive towards Christians, Jews, supportive of violence, including encouraging the burning of churches. They have even said they encourage any terrorist act in the name of the band and various other statements which are quite offensive." He says he did a full security assessment the day prior to the scheduled event and "decided that in the light of the responses that the band has evoked and taking into account the history which we know, it will be against public order interest."
As for Watain, singer and bandleader Erik Daniellsson responded to Yahoo News Singapore's request for a a comment, saying that he understands the concerns surrounding the group's reputation, but he and the rest of the members view the petition and cancellation as "attempts to govern other peoples [sic] lives and decisions ... [As] if our supporters in Singapore were incapable of deciding for themselves what makes them strong or gives them encouragement to go on living their lives in freedom." He continues, "[Do] we feel that they are accurate in their accusations? Yes, some of them are. But how to approach such things, we believe, is for each and every grown man and woman to decide for themselves. To say that we advocate self-destruction and suicide is like saying that the gospel of Jesus encourages people to crucify themselves."