Brazilian metal band Sepultura has been banned from entering Lebanon after members were accused of being "devil worshippers," ultimately leading to the cancellation of the band's supposedly upcoming gig on April 28.
According to Al Araby, Lebanon's General Security denied the artist visa applications for the band members. Skull Session, an organizer of metal events in Beirut, released a statement on Facebook regarding the incident.
"We are as outraged and angry as all of you will be," Skull Session wrote.
"We were told that the issue is delicate as it relates to insulting Christianity, that the band members are devil worshippers, that they held a concert in Israel, that they filmed a video clip supporting Israel, and that the decision was issued by the head of the General Security Forces," the statement added.
Skull Session denied these allegations, and criticized the recurring forms of censorship in Lebanon.
In 1993, Sepultura shot the music video for Territory in both Israel and Palestine, according to Loudwire. But, Skull Session confirmed that the band had not played a show in Israeli territory.
On Monday, Skull Session shared a statement from the band's management in which they reiterate that the band "is NOT satanic."
"Most of the band and crew members are Catholic. Yes, sometimes they criticize political or other injustices. That can occasionally include criticizing church, companies or institutions etc... but not in a destructive way," the statement added.
"Artists are welcome everywhere, also in Muslim countries! We played in Indonesia and will be in Turkey and Emirates (UAE) soon!"
The band's upcoming UAE performance would be its second time to rock the stage in Dubai; its first time was in 2017.
Censorship is a topic of debate in Lebanon
When it comes to freedom of expression, Lebanon has always been regarded as one of the most advanced countries in the Arab world. But, bans on films, plays, and television programs, in addition to crackdowns on journalists and activists, have led many to question and criticize the country's censorship laws.
Over the years, the country has censored several local independent film productions and banned Hollywood films including Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman (for good reason), given that the Israeli actress had once been a soldier in the occupying state's army and even commended a military attack on Lebanon.
Still, there have been inconsistencies in the way such decisions have been made over the years. The lack of transparency in this regard has led to heated debates in the past.
When it comes to Israeli-links, decisions have been quite clear. Authorities have attempted to enforce bans in an effort to boycott supporters of Israel and Israel-affiliated businesses. Lebanon prohibits any support of Israel, bans films featuring Israeli actors, and officially boycotts Israeli products.
The 1955 Boycott Law prohibits Lebanese from having any business or commercial ties with Israel. Additionally, Article 278 of the criminal code forbids Lebanese from interacting with or supporting enemy spies and soldiers.