Israel/Palestine: Death threats to popular Palestinian musician in West Bank

17 August 2005

In July 2005, gunmen broke up a concert of the popular singer Amar Hassan at a university in the West Bank. “We will wage a creative war against the militants – with more poems, more art, more singing,” says Amar Hassan. 


The popular West Bank singer and musician Amar Hassan was about to give a concert at the An-Najah University in the West Bank city Nablus. Before the show, militants from the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades came to his hotel room. They told him he must sing only political songs, and cut love songs from his repertoire. The Al Aqsa gunmen told Hassan that light-hearted entertainment is forbidden as long as Israel occupies the West Bank.

Hassan ignored the demands, and started his concert before a crowd of 1,500. (Some sources say 6,000). During his show, dozens of gunmen and hundreds of protesters rallied outside the university’s walls. Gunmen fired in the air and threw stun grenades, eventually forcing Hassan to break off the performance after less than an hour. As concertgoers left the campus, the protesters barged in, throwing chairs and scuffling with those leaving, reports Associated Press.

Amar Hassan said in an interview afterwards that he would not be silenced:
“These people (the militants) don’t want us to be happy. They want us to sit in the ruins and cry,” he said. “We will wage a creative war against them, with more poems, more art, more singing.”

Death threats

Amar Hassan shot to local fame in 2004 after he came in second in a Lebanese TV version of “American Idol” – entitled “Super Star” – a competition of aspiring artists in which fans vote for their favorites. Hassan was among the 6,000 aspiring singers who had auditioned, of whom 17 were chosen. Out of the 17, Hassan was one of the two who were chosen for the final and deciding round.

Amar Hassan was born in Kuwait and came to Palestine with his parents, along with all the Palestinian deportees thrown out during the first Gulf War as retribution for Arafat’s policy in support of Saddam Hussein. He was surprised by the reception he received from his religious compatriots. On the one hand, thousands of Palestinian fans wanted to hear him sing, and on the other – death threats.


“I am depressed. I came to dance and sing and suddenly gunmen surrounded [us]. These people are criminals,” said one young person who had crossed several Israeli military checkpoints to attend the concert.

On that particular day, members of the Al-Aqsa Brigade were angry about the loss of their men in scuffles with the Israeli army, and they were bitter about people dancing and having fun.
“This is not the time to have parties like this in Nablus,” one of the masked gunmen was quoted as saying by BBC.
The local Al Aqsa leader Ahmed Al-Taki said the group “will continue to ban concerts”.

The Palestinian cultural icon and poet Mahmoud Darwish rallied to Amar Hassan’s side, inviting him to a meeting with Palestinian intellectuals and artists in Ramallah. Darwish told participants “we all have to resist” attempts to restrict artists. His comments were published in the Palestinian newspaper Al Ayyam.





Amar Hassan
Amar Hassan –
“I will not be silenced”


BeliefNet – Associated Press: ‘Palestinians Debate Whether Future State Will be Theocracy or Democracy’

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