Mashrou’ Leila. | Photo: @mashrouleila / Instagram
Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila will apologize for two songs that supposedly violate the country’s blasphemy law.
It comes about after the band’s gay lead singer Hamed Sinno shared an article on Facebook containing pop superstar Madonna’s face photoshopped onto an image of the Virgin Mary.
Lebanese clerics then complained about two of Mashrou’ Leila’s songs, Djin and Asnam — both released in 2015. The latter makes religious allusions to ‘sanctify’, ‘crucified’ and ‘statues’.
The band are scheduled to play the Byblos International Festival on 9 August, but organizers have had to have meetings with conservative religious leaders.
The festival’s artistic director, Naji Baz, announced on Wednesday (24 July) they’ve reached a compromise.
Mashrou’ Leila will need to hold a press conference to formally apologize for their songs. They will also not be able to play the two songs in question, even though they’ve played them at the festival before.
The band must ‘apologize to all those who may have been offended’ by their songs that are ‘insulting to sacred symbols in Christianity’.
Mashrou’ Leila respond
The Lebanese band took to Twitter on Monday (22 July) to address the controversy.
‘We were quickly surprised by a defamatory campaign,’ they wrote in a statement. ‘Which relied exclusively on fabrications that couldn’t be further from the truth, to crush freedom of expression.’
They then added: ‘It’s odd that there’s been a backlash to one of those songs now, know that it doesn’t actually try to offend anyone, or their value systems. The band has played these songs all around the world, and all over Lebanon, in Baalbek, in Byblos before, and in other festivals.
‘It is very sad that some of the lyrics from our songs have been cherry-picked, taken out of context and twisted into a meaning very far from what the songs are actually about.’
They then concluded: We are not some sort of mission to arbitrarily blaspheme and disrespect people’s religious symbols.’
— Mashrou’ Leila (@mashrou3leila) July 22, 2019
They have not yet made a public comment since yesterday’s Byblos festival announcement.
Mashrou’ Leila made international headlines in 2017 when concert goers at one of their shows in Egypt waved rainbow flags. Police then arrested seven flag bearers.
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