K-pop group B1A4 created an uproar in Malaysia after hugging and kissing Muslim girls on the forehead during a concert on Wednesday.
Group manager Yoo Hae-nae of WM Entertainment said B1A4 had informed the five fans what would happen on stage.
“At the fan meeting, band members played a game of re-enacting the scenes of the Korean Drama, Heir, and selected five fans.”
“We notified them in advance and asked the selected fans whether it would be okay for them to participate because we were aware of the sensitivity of the religious issues and that some of them were Muslims.”
TGM Events, the organisers of the concert, said that the selected fans gave consent in front of a live audience for the hugging to occur.
This did not prevent people criticizing the band for being culturally insensitive and the Muslim girls for behaving in a manner contrary to their faith.
Journalist Shahril Ahmad, writing for freemalaysiatoday.com, said that some Muslims had been calling for the blood of the K-pop group B1A4 but disagreed that this was the best approach.
“We should actively seek to promote music with positive messages in line with Malaysian values, like the works of local artistes such as SOG that espouse patriotism and unity to balance out the sometimes vulgar styling of foreign artistes,” Ahmad said.
“But the vitriol shown towards K-Pop will only damage our image as a moderate nation and foster a certain rebelliousness in our youth,” he added.
Kuala Lumpur based Murugesway Rajagopal sympathised with the girls involved.
“So much trauma for them and the family as well. They were just out enjoying themselves and landed in a big soup. Poor girls.”
The respected Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said he viewed the touching as a “harmless” gesture between fans and stars.
“Ezra 3 girls innocent. If people hug u or offers a handshake its rude to refuse. Muslims must never be rude or sombong,” he wrote on Twitter today via his @zaidibrahim handle.
The Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek tried to supress discussions around punishing the girls involved.
“Nowadays there are some stuff that requires the act of law but others that require education so we know what is right and what is wrong, what should be watched and what shouldn’t,” Shabery told reporters at a press conference on Thursday.
Shaberry suggests the people involved be counselled by relevant parties.
“We should give advice to not just the organizers but also the audience so they will obey and follow the rules rather than do something that is unpleasant to many.”
Shaberry rejected the idea that religious officers be posted at events.
If there are 500 entertainment outlets, are we going to post 500 officers there? This will be a high cost to the government. There should be proper control on their end, and if ever there is a report, this will act as a precedent for Puspal to reconsider reissuing their entertainment licences.”