JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Lady Gaga canceled her sold-out show in Indonesia after Islamist hard-liners threatened violence, claiming her sexy clothes and provocative dance moves would corrupt the youth.
The controversy was a blow to the predominantly Muslim country's reputation for combining free speech and democracy with a mostly moderate brand of the faith.
Fans were devastated, despite the promoter's offer of full refunds. Some accused police — who refused to issue a permit over concerns about security — of buckling to the will of a small group of thugs.
The planned "Born This Way Ball" concert has been on-again-off-again from the start.
But on Sunday, it was final, said Minola Sebayang, a lawyer for Big Daddy, the promoter of the June 3 show.
"It's unfortunate," he said. "But with threats if the concert goes ahead, Lady Gaga's side is calling it off. This is not only about Lady Gaga's security, but extends to those who will be watching her."
Indonesia, a secular nation of 240 million, is often held up by the U.S. and others an example of how democracy and Islam and can coexist. In many ways they are right. Since emerging from dictatorship just over a decade ago, sweeping reforms have resulted in direct elections, while vastly improving human rights and freeing up the media.
But a small extremist fringe has become more vocal — and violent — in recent years, attacking Christians and members of other religious minorities, transvestites, atheists and anyone else deemed immoral.
The most notorious group, Islamic Defenders Front, called Lady Gaga a "messenger of the devil" and vowed to turn out at the airport by the thousands if she tried to step off the plane. Others said they bought tickets so they could wreak havoc from inside the 52,000-seat stadium in the capital, Jakarta.