BEIRUT: After a week of debates, threats, lawsuits, and a lot of social media turmoil, confusion still surrounds the case of whether or not Mashrou’ Leila will perform at the Byblos International Festival 2019.
Today, a stand was organized by a group of activists supporting Mashrou’ Leila and freedom of speech.
Marie Jose Azzi, one of the organizers told Annahar: “We organized this stand because this was the only thing that the power still didn’t oppress.”
She continued explaining that extreme and violent speech against a music group is not something they could stay silent about.
“What we are saying is not wrong or offensive for opposition groups to come and attack us. We also have faith that the government will protect us and prosecute violent offenders,” she said.
Tweets explaining the religious offense were published by opposition groups stating: “Offending religion is not freedom of expression, it’s lack of respect to holy matters,” and “the government should protect freedom of speech, but not when any religion is attacked.”
The tweets varied in extent and many tweets were removed for being too violent.
Certain groups of protesters were seen in Byblos today, holding banners and signs saying that “Byblos is a sacred land that will not be religiously attacked.”
And multiple speeches by clergymen were announced in Byblos explaining the opposition to Mashrou’ Leila.
A lawsuit has also been filed by lawyer Khaled Merheb, against a Facebook group called “The Democratic Christian Party.” The page has been threatening to use guns and other forms of violence against attendees of the concert that is scheduled to take place on August 9.
The group was shut down and removed after Merheb appealed to the Mont Liban Appellate Prosecutor’s Office against Naji Hayek, Charle Sarkis, and Adonis Zeidan for what Merheb described in his Facebook post to “disturb safety, threaten with the use of illegal guns, and oppress Lebanese citizen from practicing their rights to free speech.”
As for the attendees of the stand at Samir Kassir Square, music from Mashrou’ Leila albums was blasted as supporters of the group gathered to show their stand against all attempts to ban the band.
“We are saying that you can ban us from Byblos, but we will continue to advance freedom of speech. This is a part of activism, and there’s always a threat of getting attacked but we will not submit to it,” George Azzi, the executive director at the Arab Foundation for Freedom and Equality, told Annahar.
Supporters of the band held up posters and banners saying “With Leila, against the big wolf," “our freedom of speech will not be compromised,” and “free music and expression.”
What has been cleared up so far about the ban was announced earlier today by the Episcopal Committee for the Media, which met at the headquarters of the Catholic Center for Media.
The meeting was headed by its president, Archbishop Paul Matar, the Patron of the Diocese of Jbeil Maronite Archbishop Michel Aoun, two members of the band, and members of the Episcopal Committee.
The committee showed its persistence and constancy on removing “all offensive material to both Christianity and Islam from the songs” and reassured that “the land of Byblos is sacred." They also asked the band to issue a formal apology to all offended parties.
The turmoil caused between people supporting and opposing Mashrou’ Leila started a week ago over lyrics of a song from one of the band’s albums called “Djin." The lyrics were seen as offensive to religion as the translation holds “I baptized my liver in gin, in the name of the Father, and the Son.” The song was later removed from YouTube.
“The song is about a personal struggle with substance abuse that is referenced to them as religion. Taking that one sentence out and analyzing it will show it’s extreme. It’s not about the lyrics, it’s about the whole song which handles alcoholism,” activist and blogger, Gino Raidy told Annahar.
The fate of the concert is still undetermined as the band members have not been active on any social media platforms.
An-Nahar is not responsible for the comments that users post below. We kindly ask you to keep this space a clean and respectful forum for discussion.