SINGAPORE: A concert by Swedish black metal band Watain due to take place later on Thursday (Mar 7) evening has been cancelled by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), following "security concerns" recently raised by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
In a statement on Thursday afternoon, IMDA said it had earlier allowed the concert with a rating of Restricted 18 (R18). It was due to be held at EBX Live Space at Pereira Road.
"Given the band's history, IMDA imposed further stringent requirements including the removal of songs which are religiously offensive, that the band cannot make references to religion or use religious symbols and that no ritualistic acts are performed on stage," according to the statement.
However, on Thursday, MHA gave its assessment that the performance should not proceed, the statement added.
"MHA has expressed serious concerns about the concert, given the band's history of denigrating religions and promoting violence, which has potential to cause enmity and disrupt Singapore's social harmony," said IMDA.
"Watain is known for its Satanist views and some of their previous controversial performances involved animal carcasses and throwing pig's blood on its audience. The band also espouses anti-Christian views and advocates Satanism through their songs and endorses violence.
"MHA has therefore asked IMDA to consider cancelling the concert for reasons of public order, and IMDA has agreed," the authority added.
As of Thursday afternoon, an online petition calling for Watain and another group, Soilwork, to be banned from performing in Singapore had garnered more than 16,000 signatures.
According to a Facebook event page, Soilwork's concert is scheduled to take place at the same venue on Oct 29.
The Change.org petition was started by one Rachel Chan, who described the bands as "not (representing) the culture which we want in our youths". It was addressed to Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.
"Their subliminal messages in their songs include death and suicide," she added.
Watain frontman Erik Danilsson slammed the cancellation.
"We have been touring around the world for nearly 20 years and believe it or not, never have we encountered such old fashioned retardation," he said in a statement to AFP.
He described the decision as "self-righteous attempts to govern other people's lives and decisions, as if our supporters in Singapore were incapable of deciding for themselves".
This story has been updated to include a statement from Watain.