Lebanese mega-band wins battle against Jordanian conservatives

Jordan scraps a ban on Mashrou’ Leila, a progressive and incredibly popular Lebanese band, following an international uproar

Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila in concert (source: Youtube)
Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila in concert (source: Youtube)

Mashrou’ Leila, the immensely popular Lebanese will be allowed to perform in Jordan, the government announced after the cancellation of a concert scheduled for Friday sparked an enormous backlash.

Jordan is one of the few places where the band’s many Israeli and Palestinian fans are allowed to travel to see their concerts. But last Tuesday, they were told that the concert in Amman’s Roman Theater was cancelled because it violated the “authenticity” of the place.

It later emerged that Amman District Governor Khaled Abu Ziad, who issued the ban, succumbed to pressure from Christian and Muslim groups. The latter campaigned for banning the band, whose songs tackle homosexuality (the lead singer is openly gay), promote freedom of religion and criticize Middle Eastern politics.

Mashrou’ Leila was indirectly told that they would be permanently banned from the kingdom, even though they had given numerous concerts there.

On Thursday, following public expressions of solidarity by Jordanian, Arab and Western artists, Abu Ziad said that “the concert could go ahead,” but it was too short a notice.

The band posted a thank you note to their supporters, in which they said: “We take pride in playing music for an audience like ours… We take immense pride in being part of a conversation that has played a part in harnessing popular attention to the subject of artistic and intellectual censorship, and freedom in the arts.”

They added that they hoped that the government statement “will be the first step towards securing the possibility of us playing in Jordan again in the near future, perhaps under more just conditions, even though we have no reason to know for sure at this point that this will be possible, as the approval is for tomorrow’s impossible concert.”