Monsta X rapper I.M has found himself embroiled in controversy after promotional images of the K-pop star wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with an Islamic phrase went viral.
- READ MORE: Chung Ha – ‘Querencia’ review: globe-trotting pop bangers from one of K-pop’s most in-demand stars
Over the weekend, social media users pointed out that one of the outfits I.M had worn in the teaser pictures for his upcoming solo project ‘Duality’ features an Islamic phrase which Muslims recite during prayers.
Several fans on Twitter have expressed their disappointment, calling out the rapper, as well as his agency Starship Entertainment, for being religiously insensitive. They added that the phrase, which was calligraphed in Arabic on the t-shirt, should not be used for purely “aesthetic” purposes.
In a now-deleted tweet, one user wrote:
Tw // Islamphobia.
for those who don’t know this is the bimilla on his top, it says “bismillahirahmanirahim” which means “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.” and we say it before reading the Quran. its not an aesthetic, muslims shouldn’t even have Allahname https://t.co/W8rWQFw95k pic.twitter.com/isnu5NEEDP — Fonfon — online classes. (@F0F0B3AR) February 14, 2021
i.m is my bias in monsta x, i'm so disappointed.
i just want to tell you that Arabian languange & Islam are two different things!
he's not a kid, both the stylist & changkyun are wrong, it's 2021 they should've searched the meaning of it, my religion is not for aesthetic purposes
— nad. ∞ (@chancechanseu) February 14, 2021
On February 15, Starship Entertainment removed all the photos with the religious print from Monsta X’s social media pages and issued an apology on the band’s official fan cafe. “We should have taken further measures to ensure that there were no religious implications in the concept photos in advance and we regret not being able to scrutinise it fully,” the statement read. “We deeply apologise to those who felt uncomfortable with our actions.”
Starship added that it “will make every effort to prevent a recurrence. Again, we pay and extend our sincere apologies”, per SCMP.
I.M is expected to make his official solo debut this Friday (February 19) with his digital mini-album, ‘Duality’. Last week, the rapper unveiled the album’s tracklist which featured five self-written songs, including the lead single ‘God Damn’.
See the full tracklist info below:
Monsta X released their third full-length album ‘Fatal Love’ at the end of last year. In 2020, the group also released their ‘Fantasia X’ EP and their first-ever English language album ‘ALL ABOUT LUV’. The latter received an extended edition, which featured the bonus ‘I.M Rap Version’ of their Pitbull-assisted ‘Beside U’.