The band’s vocalist Hamed Sinno is openly gay and has been a well-known pro-LGBT activist for years
Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila, which has won fame throughout the Arab world for their Arabic lyrics backed by rock beats, has been banned from playing in Amman and their April show cancelled.
The governor of Amman, Khalid Abu Zeid, said on Tuesday that he had decided to cancel the gig because some of the band’s songs “contain lyrics that are not appropriate in Jordanian society”.
Speaking to Jordanian radio station Hayat FM on Wednesday, Zeid said that the offending lyrics included references to “drinking the blood of a deer’s heart”.
“This concert does not benefit us – rather, it harms us, so we have banned it.”
Independent Jordanian MP Dr Bassem al-Battoush had demanded that the government cancel the gig due to “suspicions” about the Lebanese group.
Battoush told local news site Sawaleif that the group is known for discussing sex, homosexuality and “revolution,” as well as other “strange ideas,” and hence violates the rules of Jordan’s Arab and Islamic culture.
Battoush also accused the group of promoting “devil worship”, pointing to the gig’s promotional material which features a dog’s head on a human body.
In a statement, the band said that they their show had officially been cancelled over venue concerns, despite the fact that they had played there three times before. They have also previously played in Egypt, Lebanon, Dubai and Qatar, as well as across Europe and the US.
However, the group had been “unofficially informed” that some authorities had intervened to pressure officials to not only cancel the show, but to ban Mashrou' Leila from performing in Jordan ever again “due to our political and religious beliefs and endorsement of gender equality and sexual freedom”.
The band’s vocalist Hamed Sinno is openly gay and has been a well-known pro-LGBT activist promoting gay and lesbian right throughout the Middle East for years.
“We denounce the systemic prosecution of voices of political dissent. We denounce the systemic prosecution of advocates of sexual and religious freedom. We denounce the censorship of artists anywhere in the world,” the band added in the statement published on its Facebook page.
The group, which formed in 2008 while the members were studying at the American University of Beirut, will now embark on the North America leg of its tour.
Fans from across the world quickly took to social media to denounce the gig’s cancellation.
— AHMED SHIHAB-ELDIN (@ASE) April 26, 2016