Malaysia music cult members face herbal dose

KUALA LUMPUR - A Malaysian state will treat youths it says belong to a Satanic heavy metal music cult with a herbal remedy to improve their brains, an official said on Monday.

"This herb is to stimulate the brain so that students can concentrate on their studies," Kedah state executive councillor Fadzil Hanafi told Reuters.

He said about 150 alleged "Black Metal" members from 15 schools would begin the programme -- which a private firm is said to have successfully used to treat drug addicts -- on Tuesday.

Last month the government said it had unearthed a cult whose members it said practised animal sacrifice and destroyed religious texts.

A news conference chaired by Minister of National Unity and Social Development Siti Zaharah Sulaiman showed pictures of youths dressed in black leather, heavy-metal garb, some with faces painted black and white, reminiscent of the 1970s rock band Kiss.

Some school officials in Kedah have carried out strip searches on pupils in checks for tatoos, crucifixes worn upside-down and other symbols they said would identify students as cult members.

Fadzil said the herbal treatment will also help youth to shift their focus to desireable activities.

"Nowadays students are involved in "Black Metal" because they're interested in music -- they have no interest in studying," he said.

Most "Black Metal" members are said to be ethnic Malays, who practise Islam.

Malays and other Muslims make up about two-thirds of Malaysia's 23 million population, with ethnic Chinese and Indians forming its other main groups.

07:55 08-13-01

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