Malaysian artist arrested for ‘insulting’ queen with Spotify playlist

A Malaysian artist was detained by police late on Friday for allegedly insulting the country’s queen by making a Spotify playlist that mocked comments on the queen’s Instagram account, an arrest condemned by rights groups as a clampdown on free speech.

Police said in a statement the graphic artist, Fahmi Reza, had uploaded a Spotify playlist with songs containing the word ‘jealousy’, with a photo of Queen Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah. Fahmi, who was being investigated under Malaysia’s sedition and communications laws, had also posted a link to the playlist on his Facebook account, police criminal investigations director Huzir Mohamed said. It featured a portrait of the royal and 101 songs, nearly of all which included the word “jealously”, senior police official Huzir Mohamed said in a statement. It came after a storm of criticism online after someone raised questions about the royal family and coronavirus vaccines. The monarch called critics “jealous” after she reportedly jumped the queue for a COVID vaccine. Fahmi is being investigated for breaking sedition laws, and faces up to three years if convicted under the act, Mr Huzir said. He is also being probed under the communications act.

Spotify censored the playlist and deleted it repeatedly, according to Fahmi Reza. He said on Twitter that he then uploaded it to Apple Music. The artist is set to be released later on Saturday, according to media reports citing his lawyers. Fahmi is best known for a cartoon depicting former Prime Minister Najib Razak as a clown, which became a symbol of protest in 2018.