A birthday bash in honor of the late Freddy Mercury has been canceled. The party was to have been held on Zanzibar, the place of Mercury's birth. Islamists threatened to disrupt the party saying the former frontman for Queen lived a lifestyle that was offensive to them.
Faced with fierce opposition from Islamists, who complained the flamboyant Queen lead singer's lifestyle was offensive to many on the overwhelmingly Muslim archipelago, organizers said they had no choice but to call it off.
"We have decided to cancel the party after misleading and erroneous information was spread about it," said organizer Simai Mohamed Saidi, who runs a Freddie Mercury theme restaurant in the capital.
"I urge Muslim groups in the future to seek correct information from us instead of relying on rumors," he said in an open letter, adding the event was intended to be celebration to honor Mercury, who died ofin 1991.
Saidi also lamented that the cancellation would hurt his intention to use the party to raise money for/AIDS victims on Zanzibar.
Conservative Zanzibari Islamists last week demanded that authorities ban the party and then vowed to stage mass demonstrations if it went ahead, saying it would tarnish the islands' reputation and culture and promote homosexuality.
"We were ready to join forces against the party because we had information that a number of gays from abroad had come to take part," said Sheikh Azzan Hamdani of the association for Islamic Mobilization and Propagation (UAMSHO).
"We had also written letters to the tourist commission and the owner of the Mercury restaurant, demanding that they stop the party," he told AFP.
The authorities, who have long tip-toed between secular constitutional ideals, the demands of a booming tourist industry and the wishes of conservative Muslims, never formally responded to Islamists.
But Zanzibar's information ministry this week ordered local state-run media not to give the event any coverage.
Few on Zanzibar are aware of Queen or Freddie Mercury, who was born Farrokh Bulsara on the main island of Unguja to Persian parents employed by the British colonial administration on September 5, 1946.
Draw your own conclusions here.