Middle East

Mashrou' Leila: Jordan lifts ban on Lebanese band with gay singer

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Media captionMembers of Mashrou' Leila thanked fellow musicians, artists and activists for "standing with us"

A Jordanian official has said a ban has been lifted on a concert by a Lebanese band that tackles taboos in the Arab world and has a gay lead singer.

Mashrou' Leila was told earlier this week that it could not perform in Amman on Friday evening because its songs "contradicted" religious beliefs.

But late on Thursday, Amman's governor said authorities no longer objected.

Mashrou' Leila welcomed the decision, but complained that it had been told too late for the concert to take place.

The ban had sparked criticism of Jordan, one of the region's most liberal countries.

'Shocked'

In a post on their Facebook page, the five members of Mashrou' Leila said they wanted to thank artists, musicians, intellectuals and civil society activists from Jordan and elsewhere for "standing with us".

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Media captionMiddle East Beats: Mashrou' Leila

They said had been "shocked" when Jordanian interior ministry officials and religious figures stated that their music contradicted Islam, Christianity, and the values of Jordanian society.

"What we see here is superficial cultural criticism, simple, reductive, and basing itself on the extraction of certain words from their structural context within their songs, and then from their figurative framework as metaphors," they added.

"The critic then offers a simplistic analysis of the song, stripping the writer from his freedom to use metaphor within the texts, to conclude that the writer is a satanist."

The band members said they wanted to "congratulate" Amman governor Khalid Abu Zeid on sending them a letter of approval from the interior ministry, but regretted it came "too late" for the concert to go ahead.

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