Even though the Watain concert was initially granted a restricted license, it was eventually cancelled as many Christians found the band “deeply offensive and denigrating”, said Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam in Parliament on Monday (1 April).
While delivering a 90-minute Ministerial Statement on restricting hate speech to maintain racial and religious harmony, Shanmugam addressed the cancellation of the Swedish black metal band’s concert. He noted that Christian leaders whom his ministry consulted did not want the concert to go ahead under any circumstances because of what Watain stands for.
“So when we concluded that this was the mainstream view, widespread and assessed the consequent security issues, we decided the concert had to be cancelled,” said the 59-year-old. “It’s not just about the reaction of the Christian community, but the wider security implications of that reaction.”
Controversy erupted when Watain’s concert at the Ebenex Live Space on 7 March was cancelled on the day of the performance due to “security concerns” raised by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). It followed a petition raised on the Change.org website the day before, calling for Watain and Swedish death metal band Soilwork to be banned from performing in Singapore.
The petition garnered more than 17,000 signatures. Shanmugam also noted in an interview that the band’s music is “very offensive towards Christians, Jews, supportive of violence, including encouraging the burning of churches.”
The minister revealed that the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) received an application from the Watain concert organiser at the end of December 2018. While MHA registered its objection to the concert, IMDA proposed that the concert go ahead under “detailed licensing conditions and requirements”.
These included an R(18) classification, removal of potentially sensitive songs, no religious symbols used during the event, and the concert should not denigrate any faith or promote any cult practice, nor advocate or promote violence in any way. The decision was then left to IMDA, which issued a restricted license on 5 March.
“The initial assessment was that if the band did not perform offensively in Singapore, that should be acceptable. We thought that if we imposed conditions, and there were only 200 people there, that would strike an appropriate balance” said Shanmugam. He also conceded, “It was a judgement call…so when you make assessments, the reality can sometimes turn out to be different.”
Also on 5 March, MHA then received reports of mainstream Christians being “very concerned, offended”. Following consultations with Christian leaders and leaders of other religions, as well as Members of Parliament, MHA advised IMDA to cancel.
“It was my decision that MHA should so advise IMDA,” said Shanmugam.
News via: https://sg.news.yahoo.com