The agency of K-pop boy band Monsta X has apologized after a photo for the debut solo album of member I.M drew protests from Muslims.
I.M. will be releasing his first solo album “Duality” on Feb. 19 and on Feb. 15, Starship Entertainment released concept photos for his album.
However, in one photo I.M is seen wearing a t-shirt with a printed phrase, which according to Muslims, is translated to “Bismillah Hir Rahman Nir Rahim,” meaning “In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious and The Most Merciful“.
This is “recited by Muslims daily for many different occasions,” according to the My Islam website.
Fans on Twitter called out and tagged Starship Entertainment for the photo and urged the agency to take it down.
“Those are the words we utter from the moment we wake up till we go to sleep, and before doing anything as well.... ‘In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful.’ Whoever created the t-shirt as well should step forward and make a formal apology to all Muslims!” one fan commented.
Another wrote, “My religion, Islam, is not an aesthetic. please take down the third picture. his shirt has calligraphy which mentions ‘Allah (ﷲ)’, our God in it. this is really disrespectful and hurtful to us.”
“@STARSHIPent please remove the writing on his shirt. It’s very offensive and disrespectful to use God’s names as an aesthetic. The word written is “الله"/“Allah”, and it’s very disrespectful to us Muslims, please don’t use our God’s name as an aesthetic for his shirt,” one fan said.
A fan wrote, “love I.M but @STARSHIPent can you take this picture down please this is the name of Allah and it’s not supposed to be worn as a decoration on a shirt this is not right at all thank you.”
After the controversy erupted, Starship Entertainment issued a statement and apologized for the photo.
“Regarding the concept photos that were released for I.M's Digital Mini Album 'DUALITY', Starship Entertainment took down all photos of the clothes that included religious prints,” it said.
The agency added, “We should have taken further measures to ensure there were no religious implications in the concept photos in advance and we regret not being able to scrutinize it fully.”
“We deeply apologize to those who felt uncomfortable with our actions. We ensure you that we will make every effort to prevent a recurrence. Again, we pay and extend our sincere apologies,” Starship said.