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Within Temptation pull out of Lebanese festival after religious groups force out local band, Mashrou’ Leila

By | Published on Monday 5 August 2019

Within Temptation

Dutch metal outfit Within Temptation have pulled out of the Byblos International Festival in Lebanon in solidarity with Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila, whose performance was cancelled following pressure from Christian groups.

Due to perform at the festival on Wednesday, Within Temptation said in a statement on Facebook: “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 cancelled 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”, they went on, “we have decided to cancel our show in Byblos in solidarity with Mashrou’ Leila and in support of tolerance, freedom of speech and expression”.

According to the Lebanese band, the campaign against them has grown since 2015, with various accusations that they are anti-Christian. At one point they were questioned by Lebanese security forces, although they were released without charge. One particular issue for religious groups is seemingly that frontman Hamed Sinno is openly gay.

Both Mashrou’ Leila and the Byblos International Festival said recently that they had received threats of violence leading up to the former’s planned performance. This, said festival organisers, was the reason they had decided to cancel the band’s appearance, in order to “prevent bloodshed and maintain security and stability”.

In a lengthy statement of their own, Mashrou’ Leila said that while they were previously questioned and released without charge over the content of their lyrics, Lebanese authorities have done nothing to halt the increasingly violent campaign against them.

Many argue that this is indicative of a cultural shift in Lebanon in recent years, which also saw Sepultura barred from performing in the country earlier this year. The Brazilian band were accused of being “devil worshipers” and had their visas denied.

Mashrou’ Leila recently released a compilation of some of their most popular songs along with new material. The new music includes their first English language song, ‘Cavalry’: