Gwen Stefani didn’t shock Malaysians. Good girl.
The American pop singer wowed fans in Muslim-majority Malaysia, dressed demurely to show virtually no skin after Islamic critics claimed that her revealing clothes could corrupt the country's youth.
"I am very inspired tonight. ... It is great to be here again," Stefani, 37, told some 7,000 cheering, screaming fans Tuesday at an indoor stadium on the latest leg of her Sweet Escape world tour.
"The Sweet Escape" was her first song after she burst onto the stage, wearing a black leotard under a white short-sleeved shirt and black-and-white striped hot pants suit, with black gloves up to her elbows.
She changed costumes for every song - putting on a cape once and tying a cloth around her waist like a skirt - but made sure she was fully covered while she belted out "Rich Girl," "Wind it Up," and "Hollaback Girl" among others.
International media photographers were not allowed to take pictures at the concert for copyright reasons. Fans had to leave their cameras outside.
Stefani had promised before the concert to dress modestly after the 10,000-member National Union of Malaysian Muslim Students protested against the concert, claiming her fashion sense and cheeky performances clash with Islamic values.
The opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party also accused Stefani of promoting promiscuity and corrupting the country's youth.
But most fans in the stadium thought the protesters had gone overboard with their criticism.
"I think they were making a big ho-ha for no reason. Even the local artists, they dress even much worse, much more indecent," said Denise Chan, a 15-year-old ethnic Chinese.
About 60 percent of Malaysia's 26 million people are Malay Muslims, while ethnic Chinese - who are Christians and Buddhists - make up 25 percent. Ethnic Indians - most of them Hindus - are about 10 percent.
While Islam is the official religion, Malaysia does not consider itself a theocratic Islamic country.
Malaysia's government guidelines for public performances require a female artist to cover up from the top of her chest to her knees, including shoulders. No jumping, shouting or throwing of objects on stage or at the audience is allowed. Performers may not hug or kiss, and their clothes must not have obscene or drug-related images or messages.
A local company that organized a Pussycat Dolls concert last year was fined 10,000 ringgit (US$2,857; EUR2,100) after the American girl group was found to have flouted decency regulations.
In an interview with the local entertainment magazine Galaxie, Stefani said she made a lot of changes to her concert just for Malaysia, calling it a "major sacrifice."
"I've been in the music industry for 20 years and this is the first time that I'm facing opposition from people who have misunderstood me," Stefani was quoted as saying.
"I'm not a bad girl," she said.
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