The Star blames ‘ignorance’ for Badu slip-up, says no ill-intention

The Star Sorry

English daily The Star today apologised a third time for publishing a photograph of Erykah Badu sporting “Allah” tattoos, assuring its Muslims readers that the mistake was made out of “ignorance” and without any malice.


Relating their side of the story, the paper’s editors wrote in an editorial that the offensive photograph had been approved for publication by non-Muslim editors who did not recognise the word “Allah” from the singer’s tattoos as they had been written in Arabic.

“Admittedly, we have slipped up and made mistakes. But then again, no person or organisation is perfect.

“Ignorance may not be a good excuse but this is the real story behind the mistake. We wish to reiterate that it was made with no ill intention or malice,” they said in the article titled, “No malice intended” under the paper’s “The Star Says” column today.

It noted that following the uproar caused, the photograph was immediately pulled from The Star’s website and archives and an apology was issued online through microblogging site Twitter on Monday and in the newspaper the following day.

“Today, we once again apologise to all Muslims for the mistake and assure them that there was absolutely no ‘niat jahat’ (ill intention),” the daily’s editors said.

They added that in its 40 years of existence, the paper has always been aware of the media’s role in handling sensitivities regarding race and religion.

“We have always placed national interests before any other… Which is also why we never publish gory photos of accidents or crime scenes,” they said.

All editors in The Star, they said, are aware that they must never use any image of Prophet Muhammad or any photograph featuring the text of the Quran, and would usually seek to confirm the meaning of any script or text they are unfamiliar with.

“In large part we do know. But mistakes can happen out of carelessness, thoughtlessness, plain silliness or, as in the case of the photo of… Badu’s body art with the word Allah in Arabic, ignorance,” they said.

The leading English newspaper yesterday suspended two senior editors indefinitely — Star2 senior editor Lim Cheng Hoe and deputy editor for features Daryl Goh — for approving Badu’s picture.

They also appointed two Muslim associate editors to “assist and guide” the newspaper on issues of Muslim sensitivities.

Badu, who was scheduled to perform in a concert here last night, had to cancel her show after her picture was released in the picture.

The cancellation was mooted by Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim, who said the act of showing the “Allah” symbol and “Nabi Muhammad SAW” for entertainment purposes is unacceptable by Muslims.

The American R&B songstress, in a press conference yesterday, said she respected the Malaysian government’s decision but expressed disappointment that her show had been cancelled over The Star’s picture of her.