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Lebanese rock band takes center stage in freedoms debate

Posted at 8:45 AM, Jul 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-24 11:45:03-04

BEIRUT (AP) — A popular Mideast rock band known for its rousing concerts and lyrics challenging social norms in the conservative Arab world is once again at the center of a heated debate about freedom of expression, this time over a planned concert in its hometown in Lebanon.

Church leaders and conservative politicians set off a storm of indignation on social media when they demanded that an August concert by Mashrou’ Leila in the coastal city of Byblos be canceled.

They say the group’s songs are an insult to Christianity.

The group supports LGBT rights and sings against sectarianism. The band has previously been banned from performing in Jordan and Egypt.

The band has denounced the “defamatory campaign” against it, saying the campaign relied on “fabrications that couldn’t be further from the truth.”