Death threats for singer of burqa song

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Dutch satirist Johan Vlemmix has decided not to perform his latest hit Do the Burqa onstage following death threats.

The song, a carnival parody to the music of Van McCoy's Do the Hustle, is a huge success on YouTube, so much so that the video provider has switched off the comments facility. Too many people were posting angry reactions saying that they had been insulted.

The images show a woman wearing a T-shirt which can be instantly converted into a burqa, be it one that does not cover the breasts.


Mr Vlemmix said he had expected some commotion over his song: "I'm not exactly dumb." But he had failed to anticipate the virulence of the reactions: "I really meant it as a joke. Because the burqa is banned in the Netherlands I thought it was fun to offer a carnival alternative for it: the burqa shirt."

Carnival, a colourful, musical and noisy feast celebrated annually in the southern half of the Netherlands, is often used to mock authorities and make fun of social issues by people dressed up or disguised in humorous creations.

He has not only stopped performing the song onstage, Johan Vlemmix has also cancelled the option to order the shirts via his website. But he stops short at pulling the video from Youtube: "I made it because I was convinced it was right, and I refuse to take it down."

It's not the first time that a carnival song by Johan Vlemmix caused a stir. Four years ago people from Poland reacted angrily to his song A busload of Poles, about Polish plumbers flooding the Dutch labour market. But, Mr Vlemmix said, "that was caused by an incorrect translation". Another song of his, about the deadly bird flu virus, also failed to find universal approval. But none of his earlier songs ever led to death threats.

Only once did such threats lead to an actual murder. Film director and columnist Theo van Gogh was killed in 2004 by a Dutch Muslim extremist, who was later arrested and jailed. Van Gogh had made a movie entitled Submission together with Somali-born MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali, which was highly critical of the oppression of women in the Islamic world.

Another Islam-criticising film, Fitna by populist MP Geert Wilders caused violent protests in Islamic countries. Mr Wilders, whose party provides key support to the governing rightwing minority coalition, is under permanent police protection.