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Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila face threats ahead of planned Byblos gig Open in fullscreen

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Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila face threats ahead of planned Byblos gig

Lebanese band Mashrou Leila have come under attack ahead of a planned Byblos concert [AFP]

Date of publication: 22 July, 2019

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The four-member indie band were targeted by a Facebook group named 'God's soldiers', which has threatened the band along with concertgoers in a series of posts.
Lebanese indie band Mashrou' Leila have received threats by anti-gay and Christian fundamentalists for 'promoting homosexuality and insulting the Bible' in their lyrics, ahead of a planned concert in the northern city of Byblos (Jbeil).

The four-member indie band whose lead singer is openly gay were targeted by a Facebook group named "God's soldiers", which has threatened the band along with concertgoers in a series of posts.

"We will not tolerate insults to our religious beliefs, we will not let them raise their pride flag in our city, we do not accept homosexuality in Byblos!" the group posted.

Many have since rushed to stand up for freedom of expression and against censorship in Lebanon.

"I'm surprised this Facebook group is still around. It's a textbook definition of a hate group. For those who still use Facebook, you should report it more aggressively," one Twitter user urged.

"How fragile must you be to feel threatened by a bunch of songs," another user said.

"Lebanon: the country where we forget our rights, our dignity, and our respect to others, to glorify politicians and religions while they steal whatever is left with us morally and materialistically! I stand with Arts above all this," another user said.

Some said that while they are not fans of the band's music, they will purchase tickets for the planned August 9 concert in defiance of such threats.

Mashrou' Leila's music challenges various established norms in Arab societies concerning gender roles and sexual and religious freedoms.

The group's 2015 song, entitled Ibn El Leil, had been criticised by religious-minded folk for making a reference to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

The band have been banned from performing in places like Jordan and Egypt over accusations that the band's music violates traditions and is blasphemous.

"Western media often describe us as something out of the ordinary: an Arab band with a homosexual lead singer and controversial lyrics (for the region). We are not that special," the band told The New Arab in an exclusive interview.

The band performed in Egypt in 2017 but audience members were subsequently arrested for unfurling a rainbow LGBT flag.

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