Photography: Bachar Srour
Governmental censorship of queer artists is nothing new, but it’s still disheartening to be reminded that those of us in progressive countries have so many artistic freedoms that queers around the world do not.
Lebanese rock band Mashrou’ Leila have had their upcoming concert in Jordan canceled after a campaign against them made it all the way to the Jordanian Parliament. Mashrou’ Leila’s lead singer, the Arab-American Hamed Sinno, openly identifies as queer, which led Jordanian MP Dima Tahboub to denounce the band and call for the cancelation of their upcoming show.
“Most of the Jordanian people had a firm say on not hosting such a band in Jordan,” Tahboub told CNN, explaining that the band’s Mashrou’ Leila’s music and lyrics don’t hold up “against the religion and norms of the country.”
Jordanian Tourism Minister Lina Annab explained that the opposition to the band’s performance “that could not be ignored” and that “matters escalated quite quickly to the extent that we saw that it is probably better to cancel at this time.”
Annab added that “there’s a misunderstanding about what the group’s message is.” That’s all well and good, but according to Sinno, he and the band have been receiving death threats all week.
“At the end of the day, we’re musicians,” said Mashrou’ Leila violinist Haig Papazian. “We want to play shows. We want to continue writing music. This is our job. So when you have a whole country that bans you from playing your music, it’s like a slap in your face.”