For the second year in a row, the Jordanian ministry of interior has decided to ban Lebanese indie band Mashrou' Leila from performing in Jordan, the group announced Tuesday night.
Mashrou' Leila was scheduled to perform in the Jordanian capital on June 27, having gained approval from the country's tourism ministry and obtained all necessary licenses.
Tens of ministers and members of parliament had reportedly signed a petition against the performance, only to be followed by an official decision by the ministry of interior.
This comes a year after Jordanian authorities decided to ban the band from performing in Amman, announcing the decision only a few days before the concert was set to take place on April 29, 2016.
According to The New Arab, Interior Minister Ghaleb Zuabi said that the ban will curb "the exploitation of such performances for the implementation of certain agendas that may lead to internal disagreements".
In an official response, the band wrote:
"We were genuinely under the impression that the Jordanian authorities were taking a clear stand with regards to freedom of expression, and the internationally sanctioned human rights pertaining to the LGBTIQ+ community, which the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Jordan’s former Permanent Representative to the United Nations, HRH Prince Zeid Bin Ra’ad Al Hussein has been supporting.
The inconsistency of the Jordanian authorities in this respect (inviting us, then banning, then cancelling the ban, then inviting us again, then banning us again - all within the course of 14 months - has culminated in a clear message, that the Jordanian authorities do not intend to separate Jordan from the fanatical conservatism that has contributed in making the region increasingly toxic over the last decade."
The band added that despite the incident, it will continue to defend the Muslim community, all the while publicly supporting the LGBTIQ+ community. Mashrou' Leila assured that it "will not change anything about how we go about making and performing our music".
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Last April, Jordanian authorities banned Mashrou' Leila from performing in Amman, claiming that its music contradicts with "Islam, Christianity and the values of Jordanian society".
The ban was eventually lifted the night before the concert was supposed to take place, which made it impossible for the band to follow through with the concert.
With its lead singer Hamed Sinno being open about his queerness, Mashrou' Leila is known for championing sexual freedom. In 2010, Sinno raised the LGBTIQ+ flag during the band's concert in Byblos, publicly taking a stand with respect to homosexuality in the Arab world.
Jordan is considered one of the Arab world most liberal countries, in which homosexuality is not illegal. According to the BBC, "The constitution stipulates that Islam is the religion of the state, but provides for freedom to practice one's religion in accordance with local customs unless this violates public order or morality."