- Title: Mashrou' Leila show in Lebanon cancelled after church pressure
- Date: 30th July 2019
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) JBEIL RESIDENT, SERGE HAMPARSOUMIAN, SAYING: "Worse people have come here (to Byblos) like Placebo (the band), and they didn't do this craze that we've seen in the last period. I would have preferred if they talked between each other (the band and the church) and found a better solution than what just happened." VARIOUS OF PEOPLE IN BYBLOS SOUK (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) JBEIL RESIDENT, SERGE HAMPARSOUMIAN, SAYING: "It got to a point where the fans (of the band) are really extremists, in a way that they want to become more modern and want to modernize the whole society, and from the other side (the extremist religious) are also extremists, the people who have published this whole story are extremists because they want to preserve traditions and stuff like that, and they don't accept this. I prefer to stay in the middle because you can't be with any side, both are extremists and they both claim they are right." BYBLOS INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL POSTER HANGING IN BYBLOS SOUK SHOP OWNER, ZEINA ABI YOUNES, IN HER SHOP IN BYBLOS SOUK (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) BYBLOS SOUK SHOP MANAGER, ZEINA ABI YOUNES, SAYING: "Everything religious is absolutely forbidden to be touched, they can touch politicians, economy, the country, ministers and parliament members, everyone, they are humans like us, but you shouldn't approach religions, this is absolutely not allowed." PEOPLE IN BYBLOS SOUK VARIOUS OF BYBLOS CASTLE BEIRUT, LEBANON (JULY 30, 2019) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST, GEORGES AZZI, SAYING: "Banning Mashrou' Leila's concert is a dangerous precedent, later on nothing will prevent any group if they are bothered to threat by killing and prevent any festival to happen, if judiciary will not make any steps towards what happened today and peruse who threatened killing and caused the cancelling of the concert due to security reasons. If this repeats itself, it means Lebanon has entered a dark tunnel we will not get out of." BEIRUT MARTYRS SQUARE VARIOUS MARTYRS SQUARE STATUE LEBANESE FLAG (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEBANESE JOURNALIST, YASSER AKKAWI, SAYING: "Cancelling Mashrou' Leila's concert shows disrespect to Lebanese public opinion, freedom of speech and art." LEBANESE FLAG BEIRUT, LEBANON (JULY 29, 2019) (REUTERS) ACTIVISTS GATHERED HOLDING SIGNS ACTIVISTS HOLDING SIGN READING: (Arabic): "FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION" ACTIVISTS GATHERED
- Embargoed: 13th August 2019 19:48
- Keywords: band music campaign social media concert church Mashrou' Leila festivals Lebanon
- Location: BYBLOS AND BEIRUT, LEBANON / INTERNET
- City: BYBLOS AND BEIRUT, LEBANON / INTERNET
- Country: Lebanon
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment
- Reuters ID: LVA004APZ13RB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Lebanon's Byblos festival has cancelled a Mashrou' Leila concert "to prevent bloodshed" after calls from church leaders accusing the band of blasphemy and death threats on social media.
Rights groups and activists have decried the pressure against the concert, set for next week, as part of rising attacks on free speech and marginalized communities in Lebanon.
Byblos MPs had urged the festival on Tuesday (July 30) to call off the show to "respect sanctities and morals" after Christian leaders there had demanded its cancellation.
"In an unprecedented move...the committee was forced to stop the Mashrou Leila show...to prevent bloodshed and preserve security," the major summer music festival, in the ancient city of Byblos, said in a statement.
Mashrou' Leila has already played all over Lebanon in recent years, including two shows in the ancient city of Byblos.
But plans for its Aug. 9 show have now faced a wave of online hostility. Critics include priests and Facebook users who vowed to stop the show by force, some dubbing themselves "God's Soldiers."
Some protesters gathered in Beirut on Monday (July 29) to denounce what they deem a more stifling climate in Lebanon - a country that long prided itself on being a beacon of freedom when it comes to the rest of the Arab world.
Amnesty International blamed Lebanese authorities on Tuesday for failing to protect the musicians and called the cancellation "an alarming indicator" of Lebanon's declining freedom of expression.
(Production: Issam Abdallah, Imad Creidi, Waleed Saleh, Rosalind Church)
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