BEIRUT: The Byblos International Festival Committee announced Tuesday the cancellation of the Lebanese indie-rock band Mashrou’ Leila concert, which was scheduled to take place on August 9.
The Committee reached the announced decision on the basis of maintaining peace and avoiding conflict.
“In an unprecedented step, and because of recent updates, [we] were forced to stop the concert in order to prevent blood-shedding and to maintain stability, as opposed to the practices of others," the statement said. “We regret what happened and we apologize to the public.”
The band immediately responded, issuing a lengthy statement across their social media accounts.
“Our musical venture was built on the right to be different, the right to diversity, mutual respect and forgiveness, and we will always cherish these values and morals,” the statement readout. “This is who Mashrou’ Leila is; we aspire to all that is beautiful and creative. It’s not the masonic, demonic, pointless, secret underground project.”
The members also expressed their love for Lebanon and the need for change in the country.
“During the past week, we witnessed a huge opposition to our band,” the statement said. “All that we want to say is that we love our country Lebanon immensely, and like others, we have our own ideas of this country: how it could be an even better country, for example.”
MP Ziad Hawwat confirmed to Annahar the cancellation of the concert after holding a meeting with the Byblos lawmakers.
“In order to maintain the image of Byblos and its deference to sacred laws and principles, and after a series of meetings with the Byblos International Festival Committee as well as religious and security forces concerning the concert of Mashrou’ Leila, the Ministers of Byblos issued an order of cancellation of the concert,” he said.
The cancellation had social media platforms buzzing and compiling with reactions a few moments after the news was announced.
“How could a music concert cause a threat to security and internal stability leading to bloodshed? Our country has become beyond fragile. Let’s not mention freedoms,” tweeted by Larissa Aoun, SkyNews Producer.
Other supporters tweeted their anger and outrage regarding the decision.
“We’ve been listening to ‘Asnam’ and ‘Djin’ for three years now. You might prevent Mashrou’ Leila from singing those live, but we’re still blasting their music whenever we feel like it,” one of the band supporters tweeted.
Not everyone, however, was disappointed with the news as protesters of the concert also had their say on social media.
“It would have been shameful if they would have let the band play on Byblos’ sacred grounds,” one tweeted, while another said: “The choice was right not only to avoid bloodshed but out of respect for religions.”
The cancellation was fueled by religious groups and politicians alike, targeting Mashrou’ Leila for “insulting religion” in their song “Djin” - meaning spirit in Arabic.
Keserouan MP Neemat Frem also called on Tuesday morning for banning Mashrou' Leila’s upcoming concert, labeling their lyrics as an attack on religion.
Frem said that insulting religion cannot be protected “under the guise of freedom of speech.”
He emphasized that Lebanon has always promoted freedom, however, it also protects religious beliefs.
In a statement, the church leaders from the Maronite Catholic Eparchy of Byblos said that “the aim and lyrical content of the band Mashrou’ Leila largely are in opposition with religious and human values while containing attacks on Christian rituals.”
The band had previously issued a statement asserting their respect for all religions and religious symbols while expressing their sadness at the drawback.
The band also took down Facebook posts that were deemed offensive by religious figures at the request of the Lebanese security authorities.
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.