Lebanese police to probe rock band for 'insulting religion' - lawyer

by Reuters
Wednesday, 24 July 2019 17:30 GMT

A fan of Lebanese alternative rock band Mashrou' Leila holds a rainbow flag during their concert at the Ehdeniyat International Festival in Ehden town, Lebanon August 12, 2017. Picture taken August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

Image Caption and Rights Information
Mashrou' Leila has an openly gay vocalist and its songs have stirred controversy

BEIRUT, July 24 (Reuters) - Lebanese police will investigate a complaint against the rock band Mashrou' Leila for insulting religion, a lawyer in the case said on Wednesday.

The lawyer, Christine Nakhoul, said she had submitted the complaint against the band to the prosecutor's office, which was directing it to the police.

The Lebanese group has an openly gay vocalist and its songs have stirred controversy with lyrics tackling oppression, classism, sectarianism and homophobia.

On Monday, church leaders called for a concert that Mashrou' Leila is due to give at a music festival next month to be cancelled.

The plaintiff in the case against the band, Philippe Seif, said his complaint alleged that the band had insulted religious icons on its social media pages.

Mashrou' Leila made no comment on Tuesday beyond a statement it had made on Monday over calls for its concert to be cancelled.

"We are not on some sort of mission to arbitrarily blaspheme and disrespect people's religious symbols," it said in Monday's statement.

The Maronite Catholic Eparchy of Jbeil (Byblos) said most of the band's songs "violate religious values" and it was not becoming for the festival to host concerts "directly at odds with Christian faith".

The Byblos International Festival has not yet commented on the matter.

Rights group Amnesty International has called on Lebanese authorities to ensure that the concert goes ahead and to "take the necessary measures to ensure the band is protected from this spiteful campaign".

(Reporting by Ayat Basma and Angus McDowall, Editing by William Maclean)

Openly is an initiative of the Thomson Reuters Foundation dedicated to impartial coverage of LGBT+ issues from around the world.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.