- Title: Mashrou' Leila show in Lebanon cancelled after church pressure
- Date: 30th July 2019
- Summary: SOUK OF BYBLOS VARIOUS OF JBEIL RESIDENT, SERGE HAMPARSOUMIAN, SITTING IN FRONT OF SHOP
- 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: LVA003APZ13RB
- 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)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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