Entertainment & Arts

Russell Brand cancels Middle East gigs

Russell Brand
Image caption Brand is appearing on political programme Question Time

Russell Brand has scrapped a number of dates in the Middle East after being told his safety could not be guaranteed.

He had been booked to perform in Abu Dhabi and Lebanon on his Messiah Complex world tour.

His routine deals with figures such as Malcolm X, Gandhi and Jesus.

"Those gigs have been banned, pulled because of threats from extremists that if I went there there would be problems," Brand told Radio 5live.

"The venue contacted us and said we can no longer guarantee your safety."

Brand told Richard Bacon the nature of the comedy material led to "fundamentalists" threatening to cause trouble at the venues.

He also believed the promotional poster for the tour might have played its part in the cancellations.

"The image by the brilliant artist Shepard Fairey depicts me as looking a little Christ-like....so there's an indication that it might be offensive," he said.

"If you are in some sort of fundamentalist group and Google my name and watch a few things on YouTube you might just think 'don't bother having him here'."

The tour was due to open in Abu Dhabi in August but it will now skip the Middle East and go to the US, Canada and South Africa as well as European venues.

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