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Saturday, 4 August, 2001, 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK
Malaysia curbs heavy metal music
Alice Cooper
Heavy metal has long been accused of corrupting youth
A Malaysian state has announced that it will ban a type of heavy-metal music which Islamic authorities say has a bad influence on young people.

The government and Muslim clerics fear "black metal" has encouraged some young people to dabble in the occult.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad
The prime minister is taking the issue seriously
The government last week ordered state-run radio and television to play less heavy metal music, and began requiring foreign groups to submit videotapes for approval before playing concerts in Malaysia.

Reports say some schools have started strip-searching students to look for tattoos linked to the music - a move denounced by the country's Bar Council.

An annual meeting of government-appointed clerics in the predominantly Muslim country called for a blanket ban on black metal music and associated images at the beginning of the month.

On Friday, the south-western state of Negri Sembilan announced it would issue a fatwa, or Islamic edict, banning the music.

Cabinet discussion

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has called a special cabinet meeting on 8 August to discuss the alleged involvement of youth in anti-social activities.

Body searches carried out by the authorities are a gross violation of the individual's privacy

Mah Weng Kwai, Bar Council chair
Islamic authorities say they have found evidence that some young people are involved in a "Satanic" cult, including necklaces of skulls and references to animal sacrifice in fan magazines.

The school searches were intended to uncover evidence of participation in such activities.

But some parents are reported to have been angry that their children were subjected to body searches, and Bar Council Chairman Mah Weng Kwai told the New Straits Times newspaper the searches were "a gross violation of the individual's privacy".

"The Bar Council is mindful that school authorities have to maintain good conduct and discipline among students," he said, but added that even police were not entitled to conduct random searches without suspicion that a law had been broken.

See also:

19 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
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