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Why Mashrou' Leila is banned from Lebanon's Byblos festival

Organizers of the Byblos festival gave in to pressure from church officials, politicians and online groups, announcing that they had canceled the Lebanese rock band Mashrou’ Leila’s concert.
(L-R) Musicians Haig Papazian, Carl Gerges and Hamed Sinno of Mashrou' Leila pose for a picture on November 1, 2017 in New York.
The symbol of solidarity brought a harsh backlash. As Lebanese rockers Mashrou' Leila played in Cairo, fans hoisted in the air rainbow flags, the global emblem of gay equality. The open-air festival on September 22 passed peacefully. But as pictures of the flags spread, Egyptian authorities launched roundups of the gay community, arresting dozens of people, with rights groups sayi

Fans of the controversial Lebanese rock band Mashrou' Leila ("Leila's Project") will have to look beyond the Byblos International Festival this month to see their favorite band on stage. On July 30, Byblos organizers gave in to pressure from online groups, church officials and politicians and announced the cancellation of the Aug. 9 performance of the band at the festival, citing a desire to “prevent bloodshed and maintain security and stability.”

The band members, who have gained international fame over the last 11 years, had recently been accused of defaming Christianity through their music and online presence and have been interrogated by Lebanese State Security about the matter.

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