In a move that will undoubtedly leave hundreds of music fans disappointed, Jordanian authorities have announced a ban on Lebanese indie band Mashrou' Leila ’s upcoming performance, which was scheduled to be held in Amman’s Roman amphitheater on April 29.
The news was confirmed Tuesday evening by the six-member band itself via social media.
"We’re disappointed to see that this kind of reasoning is starting to take over the Middle East. It’s disappointing to see how adamantly regional governments are trying to curtail the spread of dissent into popular culture. It’s also quite empowering. If anything, we’ve been reminded, yet again, of just how much music can actually change," Mashrou' Leila's frontman Hamed Sinno told StepFeed.
“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 [sic],” Mashrou' Leila wrote, "but the [real] story is much more problematic,” the band continued.
According to the post, the decision came as a direct result of the intervention of “certain authorities” who pressured Jordanian officials to enact the ban. Mashrou' Leila was also “unofficially informed” that it would no longer be allowed to perform in Jordan again “due to our political and religious beliefs and endorsement of gender equality and sexual freedom.”
"I have reason to believe that a complaint from a certain religious figure triggered a chain of political reactions that ultimately resulted in people deciding to 'safeguard national morality,' when that hasn’t been an issue for the last three years… I trust that the authorities will wise up to the error soon enough," Sinno said.
The move, which comes only days prior to the date of the concert, has drawn the ire of fans across social media platforms, with some even calling for a protest to be held at the venue. The highly anticipated music event, which attracts people from Jordan and neighboring Palestine –where the band is unable to perform – had proven to be a success in the past with several fans organizing trips to and from Jordan to attend the concert.
"I have absolute faith in the people of the Middle East. Their ability to topple entire governments suggests getting a ridiculous ruling revoked shouldn’t be that difficult. More than anything, I know that the support from our audiences and communities is something that scares them," Sinno said.
"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."