JAKARTA: Indonesia's national police are considering banning a performance next month by pop diva Lady Gaga amid threats of violence by Islamic extremists.
It follows an attack by religious hardliners on lesbian Muslim author Irshad Manji prompted deep soul searching in a country regarded as the Islamic world's most moderate.
A picture of Islamic extremism in Indonesia
Footage captured of an attack on Canadian author and Islamic reformist, Irshad Manji, highlight the rise in violence by Islamic extremists in Indonesia.
The threats and attacks are part of a trend in Indonesia for extremists to bully and intimidate anyone who does not subscribe to their hard line doctrine. Police rarely act against them.
A book launch by Ms Manji, a Canadian author and Islamic reformist, was stopped by police in Jakarta this month for security reasons, and then, last Wednesday, in the university town of Yogyakarta, thugs violently broke up a discussion and attacked its 150 participants.
Ms Manji's associate, Emily Rees, was bashed with an iron bar by men wearing motorcycle helmets and masks. She was among three women hospitalised.
Ms Manji was discussing her latest book, Allah, Liberty and Love, which urges reformist Muslims to show ''moral courage'' in the face of intimidation. She said she was shielded from the attackers by ''a pyramid of women''.
Ms Rees got a badly bruised arm and said the men were yelling ''Where is Manji? Where is Manji?'' as they smashed windows, crockery and computers and tore up copies of the book.
The Majelis Mujahidin Council claimed responsibility and other extremists including the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and Muslim Defenders Team have turned their attention to Lady Gaga.
The head of the front, Habib Rizieq Syihab, said the performer wanted to ''establish the evil Lucifer empire in Indonesia''. He threatened to stop her at Jakarta airport or mobilise 30,000 members to attack her June 3 stadium concert.
Indonesia has all but rid itself of its homegrown terrorist threat but violent rhetoric and religiously motivated physical assault has increased dramatically. Ms Manji visited Indonesia peacefully in 2008 but says it is ''going in the direction more of Pakistan than that of a democracy''.
''Four years ago, Indonesia was open enough and tolerant enough that FPI supporters and a transsexual could be there at my discussion. They disagreed strongly with each other but, as far as I know, everyone went home safely. That is simply inconceivable today.''
Foreign visitors are not the sole target. A Christian congregation in Bogor has been prevented for years by local Muslim hardliners from building a church, despite a Supreme Court ruling in its favour. Shiite Muslims and followers of the Ahmadiyya sect are increasingly victims of attack, and an atheist is on trial for blasphemy.
The FPI chief called at a recent public rally for the ''secretive assassination'' of liberal Muslims as part of his followers' ''freedom of expression''.
Liberal Muslim academic Luthfi Assyaukanie said the hardliners shared the view of terrorists of an earlier generation but used different tactics. But it was ''only a matter of time'' until people were killed because ''the intensity is growing''.
Radical groups act with impunity from police, who, rather than enforce Indonesia's constitutional right of freedom of speech, prefer to cite ''community opposition'' and ''security'', and then shut down controversial events. National police spokesman Saud Nasution said Lady Gaga's concert had so far been denied a permit, on the recommendation of police, even though 40,000 tickets have been sold.