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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
Malaysia tells US band to cover up
By Jonathan Kent
BBC correspondent in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysian music fans will get a rare chance to see the American rock act Linkin Park next month, but will not get to see their knees.

The government has imposed strict conditions for the concert, including a ban on the musicians wearing shorts on stage.

Many Western artists simply bypass Malaysia, which has a history of censoring movies and banning musicians.

But Linkin Park - whose debut album fusing new metal and hip-hop became America's biggest seller of 2001- have got the all-clear, albeit with conditions.

The band will have to abide by a strict code of "artist performance ethics".

Malaysia's culture ministry says Linkin Park "must not display rough, raunchy actions that conflict with pure values, such as leaping around, screaming or throwing something from stage to audience".

Male artists must cover their bodies from chest to knee level while clothing or accessories espousing drugs, obscenity or linked to what the authorities call negative elements are not permitted.

The restrictions did not appease Malaysia's Islamist opposition party PAS, which called on the government to stop the band's performance from going ahead.

"We feel Linkin Park will not able to contribute towards moral uplift among the youth in this country," said the party's former youth wing leader Mahfuz Omar.

"The government should immediately withdraw its permission."

Alternative entertainment

That Linkin Park have a reputation for avoiding drugs and alcohol, and for not overusing bad language in their songs, may have counted in their favour.

The government says it hopes their performance will provide young Malaysians with an alternative type of entertainment.

Some acts have proven too alternative in the past.

Michael Jackson was once refused a performance permit by the Malaysian state of Selangor. His dancing was considered too sexy.

Two years ago, the government moved against local heavy metal bands who were accused of promoting devil worship.

And only last month the religious authorities in the town of Kota Baru decided punks were un-Islamic and shaved off one young man's Mohican hairdo as an example to the others.

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