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Malaysian Rapper NameWee In Police Custody for Allegedly Insulting Islam

Police could question him under Section 295 of the Malaysian Penal Code, that permits punishment of two years in prison, a fine, or both

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NameWee is taken under police custody. Image source: BenarNews
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August 29, 2016: A Malaysian court has sent controversial hip-hop artist and filmmaker Namewee to jail for four days while police investigate claims that his latest music video insults Islam.

Johor native Namewee, 33, whose real name is Wee Meng Chee, was detained Monday after landing at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 3:30 a.m. from Taipei and taken to Penang island, where the music video was filmed.

At midmorning, a court in George Town remanded him to custody for four days so that police could question him under Section 295 of the Malaysian Penal Code, which bars defiling houses of worship and insulting religion. Section 295 permits punishment of two years in prison, a fine, or both.

George Town police chief Mior Faridalathrash Wahid confirmed that the arrest and remand would enable police to investigate a controversial music video that Namewee released in July.

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The four-minute video “Oh My God!” was written, produced and directed by Namewee, and features the Malaysian singer alongside the three-member Taiwanese band Nine-One-One.

The mash-up of religious traditions appears to poke fun at invoking the powers that be to overcome problems from a receding hairline to a straying girlfriend. The singers invoke Allah, Jesus and the Virgin Mary, and the Buddhist chant “Namo Amitabha,” among other terms.

Scenes from what looks like Chinese comedy movies are interspersed with footage of the four men singing and dancing in front of places of worship.

The original version released in July featured Buddhist and Taoist temples, a mosque and a church, but that version is no longer available online, according to reports. A second version uploaded on Aug. 20 omits the mosque footage.

Following the release of the original video, multiple parties filed police reports accusing the filmmaker of insulting Islam, including the chairman of the Tanjung Bungah Floating Mosque, one of Penang’s top attractions, according to reports.

In a post to his Facebook page on Monday, Namewee said that the video was meant to promote inter-religious harmony.

He said he did not believe he had done anything wrong and made the decision to return to Malaysia from overseas to face any charges against him.

“If I didn’t do anything wrong, why do I need to run and hide? Malaysia is my home, my country,” he said in a Mandarin-language statement.

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In an earlier Facebook post, Namewee said he had shown his respect for Islam by becoming the first ethnic Chinese singer in history to sing nasyid – poetry with Islamic themes.

His 2015 song “Uncle Lim” is a duet with nasyid singer Yasin Suleimen.

“This is a nasyid song sung in Mandarin in the hip-hop style. Stop your slander and accusations that I insulted Islam,” he wrote on Facebook.

Namewee made waves in 2007 during his student days in Taiwan, when he posted a rap arrangement of the Malaysian national anthem “Negaraku” – and was accused of having insulted the country, the police, ethnic Malays and the Muslim call to prayer.

He was investigated by police for sedition when he returned home in 2008 and later apologized for the video, Channel News Asia reported. (BenarNews)

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Google AI can focus on individual speakers in a crowd

The visual signal not only improves the speech separation quality significantly in cases of mixed speech, but, importantly, it also associates the separated, clean speech tracks

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Google india launches 'Tz' to help people pay their utility bills. Wikimedia Commons
Google AI to identify speakers from crowd. Wikimedia Commons

Just as most smartphone cameras now allow users to focus on a single object among many, it may soon be possible to pick out individual voices in a crowd by suppressing all other sounds, thanks to a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) system developed by Google researchers.

This is an important development as computers as not as good as humans at focusing their attention on a particular person in a noisy environment. Known as the cocktail party effect, the capability to mentally “mute” all other voices and sounds comes natural to us humans.

Google has collaborated with getty images. Wikimedia Commons
Google AI will identify individual speakers now. Wikimedia Commons

However, automatic speech separation — separating an audio signal into its individual speech sources — remains a significant challenge for computers, Inbar Mosseri and Oran Lang, software engineers at Google Research, wrote in a blog post this week. In a new paper, the researchers presented a deep learning audio-visual model for isolating a single speech signal from a mixture of sounds such as other voices and background noise.

“In this work, we are able to computationally produce videos in which speech of specific people is enhanced while all other sounds are suppressed,” Mosseri and Lang said. The method works on ordinary videos with a single audio track, and all that is required from the user is to select the face of the person in the video they want to hear, or to have such a person be selected algorithmically based on context.

Also Read: Want To Know What Facebook, Google Know About You?

The researchers believe this capability can have a wide range of applications, from speech enhancement and recognition in videos, through video conferencing, to improved hearing aids, especially in situations where there are multiple people speaking. “A unique aspect of our technique is in combining both the auditory and visual signals of an input video to separate the speech,” the researchers said.

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This will also help in speech enhancement . VOA

“Intuitively, movements of a person’s mouth, for example, should correlate with the sounds produced as that person is speaking, which in turn can help identify which parts of the audio correspond to that person,” they explained.

The visual signal not only improves the speech separation quality significantly in cases of mixed speech, but, importantly, it also associates the separated, clean speech tracks with the visible speakers in the video, the researchers said. IANS