A band has pulled out of a Lebanese
music festival in solidarity with a group that was banned from the
festival because it includes an openly gay member.
Organizers behind the Byblos
International Festival said that they were forced to cancel Mashrou'
Leila's performance after Christian groups protested the band's songs
as an insult to Christianity. Some critics said that the band was
“promoting homosexuality.” The band's lead singer, Hamed Sinno,
is one of the few openly gay celebrities in the Arab world.
Within Temptation, a Dutch symphonic
metal band, announced the cancellation on Sunday in a Facebook post.
“As you know, we were scheduled to
play the Byblos Festival in Lebanon on August 7th,” the
group said. “We have found out that another band called Mashrou'
Leila was pulled from the festival according to the festival
committee due to security reasons after religious fanatics demanded
their performance to be canceled followed by violent threats. Apart
from the fact that Lebanese authorities at this moment are not able
to provide artists the security to perform in peace, we have decided
to cancel our show in Byblos in solidarity with Mashrou' Leila and in
support of tolerance, freedom of speech and expression.”
“For you, our fans in Lebanon, it
hurts to make this decision. Our last show in Lebanon is still very
vivid in our minds and hearts. We are looking forward to better days
on which we will return to you in Lebanon,” they added.
The groups calling for the band's
removal also threatened to stop the show by force, according to the