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Mashrou' Leila releases statement after Jordanian authorities cancel concert

The concert was initially scheduled to take place 29 April at Amman's Roman Amphitheatre

Ahram Online , Wednesday 27 Apr 2016
Mashrou' Leila's concert at Amman's Roman Amphitheater in 2015. (Photo: Courtesy of Mashrou' Leila)

Lebanese indie band Mashrou’ Leila denounced in a statement Tuesday the Jordanian authorities' recent decision to cancel the band's upcoming Amman concert which was set to feature songs from their recent album Ibn El Leil.

Mashrou' Leila urged the Kingdom of Jordan to “reconsider its stance towards our message, and our art, and… to choose fighting alongside us, not against us, during this ongoing battle for a culture of freedom against the repressive powers of thought control and cultural coercion.”

The concert, originally scheduled for Friday, 29 April, at Amman's Roman Amphitheatre, was called off Tuesday by Jordanian authorities who reportedly withdrew the band’s concert permit. 

According to Mashrou’ Leila, the written justification given by Jordanian authorities is "that the performance would have been at odds with what the Ministry of Tourism viewed as the 'authenticity' of the site,” despite the fact that the band has held three concerts at this same venue before.  

“Informally, the story is much more problematic. We have been unofficially informed that the reason behind this sudden change of heart, a few days before the concert day, is the intervention of some authorities," reads the statement.

"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pressured certain political figures and triggered a chain of events that ultimately ended with our authorisation being withdrawn,” 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.” 

The mother of the band's lead singer (Hamed Sinno) is Jordanian, and it has thousands of ardent fans across Jordan as well as Palestinians.

Palestinians “organise elaborate bus trips to come from Palestine to see us play”

The abrupt cancellation of the concert is devastating, the band said.

The band also decried what they described as “the systemic prosecution of voices of political dissent … of advocates of sexual and religious freedom” as well as “the censorship of artists anywhere in the world,” calling on fellow musicians and artists “to continue to produce work that challenges any unfair status quo, despite the difficulties confronted.”

“We apologise for having thus far failed at creating a cultural environment that allows our children to speak their minds. We believe whole-heartedly that we have only ever acted with the intention of making our world a more equal and just place, even if 'only through song.'

In an attempt to pressure Jordanian authorities to reconsider their decision, a petition via and titled “Let Mashrou’ Leila play in Amman” was started and has thus far collected 1,023 signatures.

The petition, which will be delivered to Jordan’s Ministry of Tourism, challenges “cultural censorship” which “creates stigma around topics tackled in Leila songs.

"When fans imagine the concert experience, it is filled with positivity. This is intelligent Arabic music that we can all connect with. Previous concerts have seen thousands of people dance to the beautiful creativity of youthful critique,” the petition reads

We, the fans of innovative culture, respectfully ask of the Ministry of Tourism to repeal this decision and allow for the concert to continue as planned."

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