Wed, 30 Apr 2003

Gus Dur stands behind Inul

JAKARTA: Former president Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid has come out in defense of Inul Daratista, the popular dangdut singer who some religious leaders have criticized for her erotic style of dancing.

Gus Dur, himself a Muslim cleric, said that those who criticized Inul were misusing religious precepts as a pretext to suppress freedom of expression.

He particularly singled out veteran dangdut singer Rhoma Irama, who is known as the "king of dangdut" by his fans.

"Nobody has the right to curtail other people's creativity," he was quoted by Media Indonesia daily as saying. "Oma Irama should not act like a king. We have to fight all attempts to suppress freedom of expression."

Rhoma Irama, in his capacity as chairman of the Association of Indonesian Dangdut Singers, summoned Inul to his office on Sunday to convey the association's objections to her dancing style.

Officials from the Indonesian Ulemas Council earlier denounced Inul's dancing as haram (forbidden under Islamic law) and called for her to repent. --JP