Violent Religious Threats Prompt Within Temptation Festival Exit
Within Temptation have canceled their Aug. 7 performance at Lebanon's Byblos International Festival after local group Mashrou' Leila were removed from the bill "due to security reasons after religious fanatics demanded their performance to be canceled followed by violent threats," the Dutch rockers said in a statement Sunday (August 4).
Last month, Mashrou' Leila released their own statement claiming they were victims of a "defamatory campaign" that resulted in their removal from the event, ascribing the dismissal over "backlash to one of [our] songs." The festival has also released a statement regarding each artist. Read them all down toward the bottom of this post.
Byblos nixed Mashrou' Leila's performance “to prevent bloodshed” after an outcry from church leaders that charged the outfit with blasphemy, according to Euronews. Band members also allegedly received death threats online prior to the scheduled concert. As noted by the NME, Mashrou' Leila vocalist Hamed Sinno is openly gay.
Within Temptation canceled their Byblos show in solidarity with the Lebanese band, who were first removed last month, as reported by Reuters Africa. Activists have denounced the decision as part of a growing assault on free speech and marginalized communities in Lebanon.
But in July, Byblos all but threw its hands up regarding the apparent campaign against Mashrou' Leila, revealing the festival was essentially powerless to go up against such a large-scale offensive.
"Unfortunately, the national debate that ensued as a result of an organized campaign against the band and the Festival goes well beyond the scope of the mission BIF is able to handle," the festival wrote.
With a heavy heart we must inform you of the following:
As you know, we were scheduled to play the Byblos Festival in Lebanon on August 7th. 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, 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.
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