Did J.Lo’s ass just set off an international incident?
Perhaps not. But the American singer’s in-concert sexual charisma has landed her in legal hot water with the prudish Islamist prime minister of Morocco.
In late May, Jennifer Lopez performed at the Mawazine festival in Rabat, the capital of Morroco. The show was broadcast on TV, and Lopez’s invariably sexy stage performance upset some people, including high-ranking Moroccan politicians. (The last time J.Lo got in trouble for a gig overseas was in 2013, when she serenaded the human-rights-crushing, personality-cult-driven dictator of Turkmenistan.)
TMZ reports an unnamed “education group” is suing Lopez and her promoter for “tarnish[ing] women’s honor and respect.” (The Daily Beast has reached out to J.Lo’s publicists for confirmation on this, but her reps have yet to respond.) Minister of Communications Mustapha Khalifi angrily tweeted about it, and Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane went as far as to order an investigation into the televised broadcast that was allegedly too hot for his country to handle.
Benkirane slammed the broadcast as “sexually suggestive” and “serious delinquency” that showcased “disgraceful [J.Lo-laden] scenes.”
The booty-hating prime minister says it constituted a violation of the nation’s audiovisual laws (“with sexual overtones… indecent and provocative to the religious and moral values of Moroccan society”), and wrote to the president of the High Authority of Audiovisual Communication to demand it “take legal measures against those responsible.”
If Lopez and her promoter were ever prosecuted, the sentence for such a violation could be up to two years in prison.
J.Lo can rest easy tonight, though. We have no extradition treaty (PDF) with Morocco, for one thing. Also, the Obama administration is not handing over an accomplished American performer (and fierce Obama ally) such as J.Lo to Moroccan authorities.
The State Department had no comment on this matter since “it is a case that has not happened yet,” a spokeswoman said. She directed The Daily Beast to the Department of Justice, where officials would be able to address the “nuts and bolts” of a hypothetical extradition of J.Lo. (The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.)
Lopez is not the only Western pop star who has attracted Benkirane’s ire. In 2010, his party voiced its opposition to a then-upcoming Elton John concert. (John is openly gay.) He ended up performing in Morocco regardless. In 2011, shortly after Benkirane was elected head of government, the prime minister would not clarify if he would allow the singer/songwriter back to Morocco. “I have problem with this man because he said a bad thing about Christ, and Christ is a very important prophet in the beliefs of Muslim people, that’s why,” he said.