Bahrain: Parliament’s attempt to ban singer failed



Parliament’s attempt to ban singer failed

Bahrain’s Islamist parliament members wanted to ban the Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe from performing in the country because of her sexy looks. They were not successful. Instead, their attempt gave the singer great publicity world-wide

Singer and pop diva Haifa Wehbe (also spelled: Hayfa Wahbi) has so far emerged the victor in the battle between moderates and conservatives over artistic freedom of expression in Bahrain. A row over her concert in Bahrain on 30 April 2008 has given her an unexpected publicity-boost.

She was scheduled to perform together with the Lebanese musician Fadel Shaker for a “family-only” concert at the Gulf Hotel. Regardless of the organisers’ promise that the singer would wear “decent clothing” at the performance, five Bahraini lawmakers wanted to stop the performance. Two days before the concert they submitted an urgent bill to the chairman of the Council of Representatives, Khalifa Al Dhahrani, which proposed to ban the singer from performing in Bahrain on the grounds that she is too ‘provocative’.

The Islamist-dominated 40-member parliament approved the bill on 29 April 2008 – with all but one vote of the members – and it was then sent to the government.

Sellout concert
Websites and publications across the globe, that had until then never heard of Haifa Wehbe, went ballistic with the story, but the government, however, did apparently not ban her concert, and after all the media attention the concert turned into a sellout – with tickets starting from 50 Bahraini Dinar (132 US dollars).

Haifa said she was aware of the proposal by MPs to ban her from performing at the concert but chose to ignore their petty attempts to silence the her.
“I know my fans want me and I am there for them. I am not concerned with the other issues,” she told the Lebanese newspaper Ya Libnan.

Dressed modestly
“Haifa Wehbe was dressed modestly. She was almost veiled,” Adel Surour, 37, who attended the evening night show with his family, was quoted as saying by Agence France Presse the following day.
Haifa Wehbe did not comment directly on the bid to ban her, saying: “I am a performer and not a politician. I will leave politics for the politicians and let our president talk politics,” she told Ya Libnan – seemingly forgetting that Lebanon has not had a president for more than half a year.
Haifa Wehbe’s new international fame has raised speculation that she may now make a move into Western showbiz.

‘Negative impact on youth’
Bousandal, one of the signatories of the bill, said they were not against singing, partying or music in general, but he labeled Haifa Wehbe a ‘sexual singer’.
“We need to do something concrete for these type of sexual singers who speak with their body rather than their voice. There should be some control on them as they have negative impact on the youth. We are fighting here for a bigger issue of alcohol, pornographic materials which is all done under the cover of tourism,” he was quoted as saying.

About the artist
Haifa Wehbe has released three music albums. Her career began at the age of 16 when she won the title of Miss South Lebanon in a beauty contest. She was a runner up for the Miss Lebanon beauty pageant.

'Bahrain bans sexy singer Haifa' - photo gallery
Haifa Wehbe

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Mahmood’s Den – 28 April 2008:

‘M.Report S01E11 – Hayfa Wahbi, despondency and its cure!’


Google News – continously updated:

Search: ‘Haifa Wehbe’ + ‘Bahrain’

Bahraini TV – 1 May 2008:

‘Hypnotised by Haifa hoopla’

Middle East Online – 1 May 2008:

‘Haifa Wehbe sings in Bahrain’

Daily Star / Agence France Presse (AFP) – 30 April 2008:

‘Bahraini MPs pass motion to block Haifa performance’

BBC News – 30 April 2008:

‘Lebanese singer causes Gulf storm’

Read more
about indecency issues

World-wide: Calls for censorship of ‘indecent’ songs
Where to draw the line and when to actually ban a song because it is considered indecent, profane, immoral or offending against the recognised standards of propriety?
31 March 2008

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