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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

NameWee is taken under police custody. Image source: BenarNews

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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Christian Blasphemy Suspect in Pakistan Jumps from Building to Escape Torture

Supporters of Pakistani civil society groups protest in favor of the Christian community in Karachi, Pakistan, Feb. 26, 2018. An official said Sajid Masih, a Christian blasphemy suspect, who suffered serious injuries after jumping off a federal building, is now in stable condition. VOA

Authorities in Pakistan are investigating reports that a Christian blasphemy suspect jumped from a four-story building and suffered serious injuries to escape torture in custody.

Officials and doctors say Sajid Masih is recovering from his “fractured legs and jaw” in a hospital in Lahore where the incident took place on Friday.

Masih and one of his cousins were taken into custody for allegedly posting anti-Islam content on Facebook. They were being probed by cybercrime experts of the Federal Investigation Agency, or FIA, at its main office in the eastern Pakistani city when Masih jumped from the fourth floor of the building.

FIA officials denied charges the man was being tortured or abused, saying “no one had even touched” him. They insisted Masih panicked after “he was asked to unlock his cell phone” for screening.

ALSO READ: 69 Years a Slave? Balochistan’s Struggle for Freedom: A Detailed Report

In a video message circulated and shared via social media, Masih has accused several FIA officers of “severely” torturing him and snatching his cell phone in the process. Pixabay

He alleged the officers were coercing him and his cousin into sexually assaulting one another before he decided to jump from the window.

Dozens of Pakistani human rights groups and activists strongly condemned the incident in a joint statement Monday. They raised serious concerns over persistent misuse of Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws, specifically against Christian and other religious minorities.

“The law enforcement authorities have not only failed in their duty to protect minorities but have actively participated in violence against them,” the statement said.

The groups called for an independent inquiry into the incident, rejecting the FIA’s ongoing internal probe as unacceptable. Wikimedia Commons


They also demanded that area police withdraw the case of attempted suicide against Masih. Activists say they suspect the police case was meant to cover up and protect FIA officers who made the Christian community member jump off the building.

Insulting Islam and its Prophet Mohammad are extremely sensitive issues in Pakistan and can carry the death penalty, although no one has been executed under the blasphemy laws. Right groups say the laws are often misused or exploited to settle personal disputes.

ALSO READ: Pakistan’s handling of Balochistan is reminiscent of its step brotherly treatment to East Pakistan

Mere allegations of blasphemy have provoked mob lynchings of suspects or their targeted killings in Pakistan. Pixabay

In Monday’s joint statement, activists have also demanded authorities take immediate steps for safety and protection of Masih and his relatives.

Last year,23-year-old university student Mashal Khan was beaten to death by fellow students and others at the campus, accusing him of sharing blasphemous content on social media, charges investigations later determined were false. The incident happened in the northwestern city of Mardan, provoking a nationwide outcry against Khan’s brutal killing.

Earlier in February, an anti-terrorism court sentenced one person to death and 30 others to jail terms, including life imprisonment, for their role in the lynching case. (VOA)