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Reversal of ban on Mashrou’ Leila concert hailed as ‘triumph for music’

By Laila Azzeh - Apr 30,2016 - Last updated at Apr 30,2016

Hamed Sinno (second left), lead singer and song writer of the Lebanese group Mashrou’ Leila, speaks during a press conference with his band members, in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday (AP photo)

AMMAN — After banning Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila from holding a concert in Amman for Friday, authorities went back on their decision on Thursday evening, allowing the group to perform at the Roman Theatre. 

Although the decision “came late”, which made it “impossible” to hold the concert, the Lebanese band, its fans and the organising company hailed the decision as a “triumph” for music, tolerance and freedom.  

“We appreciate that the authorities reversed their earlier decision, even if it’s late. We believe this wouldn’t have been possible without the strong reactions from people who believe in freedom of expression and artistic and cultural freedoms, and who stepped up to defend the pluralism and diversity of Jordanian society,” according to a statement issued by Citarra, the organisers.

“This gives us hope and confidence for Jordan to host diverse cultural and artistic events in the future,” the company said. 

On its official Facebook page, Mashrou’ Leila thanked Amman Governor Khaled Abu Zeid for revisiting his decision and “for taking a first step towards us, by sending us this letter of approval from the Interior Ministry that was signed with his extension of respect”. 

“However, the approval was sent too late for us to still be able to play the concert, as it was issued after the Ministry of Tourism was closed, meaning the organisers would not be able to possibly secure the venue in time, let alone reorganise the entire event in 24 hours,” said the band. “We would also like to take this opportunity to thank the great number of artists, musicians, intellectuals and civil society activists from Jordan and around the world for standing with us,” said the band.

It also cited the reasons that first prompted authorities to cancel the event, which as stated by Amman governor had to do with the band’s songs that “violate the traditions and customs of Jordanian society”.

“…According to article 10 of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism signed by Jordan, individual, and group rights and freedoms must be respected, regardless of customs, traditions, and beliefs. We were shocked when [we] found out the reasons behind the cancellation, so we would like to clarify and respond to some of the allegations surrounding the band,” said Mashrou’ Leila. 

While Jordanian fans have taken to social media networks to express their happiness and support for authorities for revisiting the decision, those against allowing Mashrou’ Leila to perform in the Kingdom expressed their resentment.

“I am a Jordanian and all the Jordanian street supported the cancellation of the concert. Sexual and homosexual freedoms are against our society and the values we hold [on]... to,” wrote Tasneem Mohammad on Facebook.      

Yazan Atoum agreed, saying that “even freedoms should be restricted when they affect the ethics and values of the majority”. 

 

“The number of those against the band cannot be compared to those who support it…the issue is not about suppressing music, but about not respecting the traditions, religion and concepts of a country you want to perform in,” he noted. 

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