Erykah’s BAD-u pass to Malaysia

It’s a crime against humanity to tolerate oppression.

Grammy-winning Fort Greene soul singer Erykah Badu did as much when she didn’t protest the recent cancellation of her concert in Muslim-majority Malaysia because her “Allah” tattoo was considered “an insult to Islam” — an infraction, according to the authoritarian regime’s cultural minister, that would “have a negative impact on the government’s image.”

That’s rich coming from a nation that promotes human trafficking, quashes dissent, curtails freedom of expression and religion, controls the media, and punishes bloggers for sedition.

Badu, a grandstanding performer who likes to sing about injustice (“Who gave u permission to rearrange me, certainly not me…” she croons in “Certainly”), accepted the diss like a spineless jellyfish.

“I don’t have any heavy feelings about it because I understand (the minister’s) position, and I respect the beliefs of the people who also feel the way he does,” the performer, who once stripped unapologetically in public for a music video, rambled to reporters in Kuala Lumpur.

Too bad.

Badu should have used this opportunity to stand up to the Malaysian government, whose brutalities are well established. Criminal suspects in Malaysia are detained indefinitely without charge or trial, tortured in detention, and rearrested upon court-ordered release, says Human Rights Watch in its 2011 World Report. Wretched conditions there, including those endured by migrant workers, are documented in a report suitably named, “They Deceived Us at Every Step.”

“Malaysia was like a prison for me,” says a 31-year-old woman who migrated from Cambodia to support her disabled brother and elderly parents, but returned home after suffering regular beatings and being denied food.

Another migrant, a teen who worked for 10 months without pay, said all hell broke loose after she protested: “When I asked for my salary and passport, madam told me that I have to work in her shop. She threatened to sell me to another person if I refused. When I resisted and asked her to take me to my agent, she locked me inside a room and didn’t give me any food for a week.”

Is Erykah Badu so oblivious to human suffering in Muslim strongholds that she would entertain the thought of performing in a country like Malaysia, whose own human rights commission (ha!) attests to its vile abuses?

“The Government of Malaysia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking,” the toothless agency acknowledged last year.”

Sadly, Badu isn’t the only American celebrity to give Islam’s inhumanity a free pass. Woody Harrelson spouted, “America’s war against terrorism is terrorism,” director Robert Altman stated, “When I see an American flag flying, it’s a joke”, and Danny Glover charged that “one of the main purveyors of violence in this world has been this country.”

Celebrities who have exploited the Free World’s largesse have no problem vilifying it — no reprisals there! — but what a chicken-hearted bunch they are when it comes to taking a stand against the pitiful human rights abuses happening every day in Muslim nations. Cluck ’em!


Shavana Abruzzo's opinions appear every Friday on BrooklynDaily.com. She can be reached at sabruzzo@cnglocal.com.

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