A popular Lebanese band, known for their controversial, liberal-leaning lyrics and their gay lead singer, have been banned from performing in Jordan.
Mashrou’ Leila, a soft rock band from Beirut whose songs cover topics like homosexuality and gender equality as well as wider political issues, were scheduled to play a concert in the Roman amphitheatre in Amman, Jordan on April 29.
In a post on its Facebook page, Mashrou’ Leila told fans they would not be able perform this week as scheduled, citing the organisers claims that the “performance would have been at odds with what the ministry of tourism viewed as the ‘authenticity’ of the site”.
The band pointed out that this official explanation is unconvincing, as Mahrou’ Leila (whose lead singer is from Jordan) have played at the venue three times. They cited political pressures as a cause for the cancellation.
“Informally, the story is much more problematic. We have been unofficially informed that the reason behind this sudden change of heart, few days before the concert day, is the intervention of some authorities,” said in a Facebook post.
“Our understanding is that said authorities have pressured certain political figures and triggered a chain of events that ultimately ended with our authorisation being withdrawn.”
“We also have been unofficially informed that we will never be allowed to play again anywhere in Jordan due to our political and religious beliefs and endorsement of gender equality and sexual freedom.”
BBC reports that Amman governor Khalid Abu Zeid told the Associated Press that the group had been banned because its songs “contradicted” religious beliefs, and not because its music went against the amphitheatre’s historic ambience.
The band has since asked the Jordanian government to “reconsider its stance” and to “choose fighting alongside us, not against us, during this ongoing battle for a culture of freedom against the regressive powers of thought control and cultural coercion.”
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