Musical Group Mashrou’ Leila Banned from Jordan, Allegedly for Endorsing ‘Gender Equality and Sexual Freedom’

The popular group has informed fans that Mashrou’ Leila will not be able to perform an April 29 concert in Amman:

From the band's Facebook page.
From the band’s Facebook page.

According to a widely shared Facebook post on the popular Lebanese alt-rock group’s official site:

We have just been notified that our authorization to play has been withdrawn. The written justification officially provided is that the performance would have been at odds with what the Ministry of Tourism viewed as the “authenticity” of the site, despite the fact that we had the chance to perform for you at the same specific site three times in the past and had followed the same permit procedure before the competent authorities.

The five-member group, which formed in 2008, has been popular across the region. They suggest that their ban — which seems to be permanent — is due to their stance on “gender equality and sexual freedom”:

Informally, the story is much more problematic. We have been unofficially informed that the reason behind this sudden change of heart, few days before the concert day, is the intervention of some authorities. Our understanding is that said authorities have pressured certain political figures and triggered a chain of events that ultimately ended with our authorization being withdrawn.

We also have been unofficially informed that we will never be allowed to play again anywhere in Jordan due to our political and religious beliefs and endorsement of gender equality and sexual freedom.

This also had repercussions for the group’s Palestinian fans, they said, as “Jordan is also the only place where we get to perform for our Palestinian audience, who organize elaborate bus trips to come from Palestine to see us play.”

Their message continues:

We denounce the systemic prosecution of advocates of sexual and religious freedom.

We denounce the censorship of artists anywhere in the world.

We apologize for having thus far failed at creating a cultural environment that allows our children to speak their minds. We believe whole-heartedly that we have only ever acted with the intention of making our world a more equal, and just place, even if “only through song.” We pledge to our audience that we will continue to place the integrity of our art as our foremost priority, and to never succumb to the pressure to compromise our message, or to waive our freedom to speak. We promise to continue to write out of love, and with the desire to spread love. We will fight, as we have always done, for our right to freely play our music and speak our mind.

We urge our fellow musicians and artists across the world to continue to produce work that challenges any unfair status quo, despite the difficulties confronted.

We respectfully ask the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to reconsider its stance towards our message, and our art, and urge the Kingdom to choose fighting alongside us, not against us, during this ongoing battle for a culture of freedom against the regressive powers of thought control and cultural coercion.

We strongly hope the authorities will make the right decision, so that we can see you in a few days.