Marcel Khalife – the blasphemy trials On 3 November 1999, Marcel Khalife appeared before the Beirut Court of First Instance, accused of blasphemy, charges that could bring him six months to six years imprisonment. The charge against him relates to the song ‘Oh Father, I am Yusuf’, based on a poem by the Palestinian poet and writer Mahmoud Darwish. The song, from the album Arabic Coffeepot, released in 1995, is inspired by the story of Yusuf (Joseph) and his brothers, which quotes a verse from the Koran. The song’s vague citation of a Koran verse drew hostile attention from Dar-al-Fatwa, Lebanon’s highest Sunni authority. A month earlier, the appointed investigating judge recommended that prosecutors bring criminal charges against Khalife for ‘insulting religious values by using a verse from the chapter of the Holy Qur’an in a song’. Sunni clerics ruled that singing verses from the Koran was ‘absolutely banned and not accepted.’
On 14 December 1999, a Lebanese court found Marcel Khalife innocent of blasphemy.