Justin Bieber’s brief press respite may be over.
The singer has been widely praised for reportedly halting his Istanbul, Turkey concert — twice — so that Muslim fans in the audience could observe silence during the traditional call to prayer.
E! News reported on Thursday, May 2:
“The 19-year-old singer halted his concert in Istanbul twice to honor the Azan.”
“Fans were shocked and delighted at when the ‘Boyfriend’ singer paused his show for the first time thanking the singer for being ‘respectful’ and a ‘great man.'”
“Concertgoers flooded Twitter with their heartfelt comments about the singer’s decision to observe the prayer call,” E! News enthused, before adding, “color us impressed, Biebs!”
And, indeed, there was a happy surge of messages on the social networking site commending Bieber’s apparent attentiveness to Turkey’s dominant religion.
Haroon Moghul, essayist, novelist, and Fellow in Muslim Politics and Societies at Fordham Law School and Associate Editor-columnist at Religion Dispatches, wrote:
— Haroon Moghul (@hsmoghul) May 3, 2013
While Mohammed Ansar, a British-Muslim political commentator and legal and civil rights advocate tweeted the pop superstar, saying:
Even former Bieber detractors were impressed. One Twitter user, going by the moniker ‘luqieman,’ trilled:
The online Islamic law affiliate of Harvard University’s Berkman Center exulted:
While Beyond Compromise editor, Adam Adán wrote:
Apparently, Justin Bieber paused his concert in Turkey twice out of respect for the athan. Muslim artists dont do that. I’m impressed biebs! — Adam | آدم | Adán(@Abou_Charlie) May 3, 2013
But, ‘Beliebers’ and those newly converted may want to slow their roll.
Hurriyet Daily News, a Turkish newspaper, is reporting that toys — not the call to Islamic prayer — were behind the Canadian’s paused performance.
The paper wrote: “Fans were throwing toys and scarves at the beloved singer as a show of appreciation, but the teen magnet decided he wanted no more of it, and abandoned the stage.”
“He stayed backstage and refused to come out until an announcement was made in Turkish, informing fans that the show would not go on until the toys stopped coming in.”
“Bieber then continued on with his show,” the daily added.
A somewhat different interpretation, then. Out of the conflicting gap, inevitable conspiracy theories have emerged. ForeignPolicy.com quotes one indignant Twitter user, who railed:
For the Muslims supporting Beiber for stopping his concert 4 Athan. This is Public Relations gimmick to cover up this hurriyetdailynews.com/justin-bieber-… — A_Abuleil (@AAbuleil) May 3, 2013
But before anyone gets too hot under the collar, it’s worth remembering that Bieber hasn’t made any claims or statements as to why he stopped the concert. Nor did he complain publicly (post-show) about the reported toy throwing, if indeed that is what happened. Oddly, no other Turkish media mentioned it.
Currently in Dubai with rapper best friend Lil Twist on the eve of two insanely anticipated shows, until firm testimonials from Turkey present themselves — either way — perhaps we should let a teenager who’s been schlepping around the world for months under relentless scrutiny enjoy what’s left of the sun.