When conflicts unfold between and within countries, artists’ rights to artistic freedom of expression are often violated. Recently, artists have been affected by the ongoing conflicts between Israel and Lebanon as well as between Israel and Iran.
Singer banned in Iran after performance in Israel
The Iranian-born British Muslim singer Sami Yusuf, whose records have sold millions of copies in the Middle East, has been banned by state television in Iran because of his recent performance in the Israeli city of Nazareth, according to a report in the British newspaper The Guardian.
Iranian news websites reported that state tv had banned Yusuf’s music from all its channels after he performed in Nazareth in Ramadan, even though the city (which is located in Israel) has a predominantly Palestinian population and most of his audience was Palestinian.
“Sami Yusuf’s recent trip to the occupied territories (Christian and Jewish holy sites including the site of the baptism of Jesus Christ) is the reason why his works are banned from the state television,” reported Entekhab, an Iranian news website.
Iran does not recognise Israel, and world artists who perform there become persona non grata in the Islamic Republic.
Yusuf, 35, reacted to the controversy by issuing a statement on his official website with the headline: “Banned by my very own.”
“I was very surprised to hear that the official state tv and radio for the Islamic Republic of Iran has banned my music and likeness due to my recent performance in Nazareth,” he wrote.
“I was not aware that bringing smiles to the faces of my beloved Palestinian brothers and sisters could cause such offence to the government of Iran. I am sorry that my precious listeners in Iran will be denied my music for sometime, but I will not apologise for performing in Palestine.”
He went on to say: “Music is permeable and was never meant to be confined to borders nor used for political ends, rather, it was meant to echo freely throughout space and time. ”
Singer refused entry to Lebanon
The singer Adham Nabulsi, who has a Palestinian background was allegedly also affected by the hostility towards Israel when he was banned from entering Lebanon due to the Israeli visa on his passport
According to I24 News, the Lebanese authorities banned Adham Nabulsi from entering Lebanon, because he previously entered the Palestinian Authority’s territories on an Israeli visa. Nabulsi was detained in Al Hariri airport for four hours before the airport authorities refused him from entering Lebanon, forcing his return to Jordan.