Gemayel Says 'Freedoms in Danger' after Mashrou' Leila Controversy


Kataeb Party chief MP Sami Gemayel has voiced concern over freedoms in Lebanon in connection with ongoing controversy over Lebanese indie rock band Mashrou’ Leila.

“Freedoms are in danger and for years now we’ve been witnessing police-state-like practices that ban movies and books and repress individuals expressing their opinions on social networking websites,” Gemayel said in an interview on al-Hurra TV.

“That’s why we have warned and expressed our concern over freedoms,” he added.

“In Lebanon, a country whose significance lies in its moderation and openness, we were hoping that we don’t, in any way, give a nod to extremists that would allow them to control all Lebanese,” Gemayel lamented.

He added: “We believe in respecting religions and creeds, but at the same time we believe in preserving our sacred freedom, without which Lebanon would not exist.”

Mount Lebanon Prosecutor Judge Ghada Aoun told LBCI TV on Friday that the band’s members were questioned and released after “pledging” to remove a Facebook picture that had stirred indignation.

“No additional measures will be taken seeing as there are no other offenses and those of them who are outside Lebanon can return because there is no memo against them,” she added.

Organizers of the Byblos International Festival said Thursday that the band is to play at the festival in next month, but only after apologizing for two songs deemed offensive to Christians.

The two offending songs -- titled "Idols" and "Djin" -- will not feature in their set at the festival on August 9, an organizer said.

The band has also taken down posts "violating sacred symbols of Christianity" at the request of the State Security agency, the prosecutor’s office said on Thursday.

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