Marcel Khaliffe is a renowned Lebanese musician and composer, while Qassim Haddad is a prominent Bahraini poet. The two are in trouble after being accused of violating Islamic morals and Shariah laws.
The two need your support in the face of this Islamist attack. There is an on-line petition in both Arabic and English, and I hope you can add your name to it.
Thanks for your help and please spread the word.
27 March 2007
Two Arab Artists under Attack
Marcel Khalife and Qassim Haddad
cause fury in Bahrain's parliament
Members of parliament in the small Gulf kingdom Bahrain attacked a performance by Lebanese composer Marcel Khalife and Bahraini poet Qassim Haddad as being a violation of Islamic morals and sharia laws
Controversy has emerged with a new work by the famous Lebanese musician and composer
Marcel Khalife and Bahraini poet Qassim Haddad. The controversy revolves around the setting of an epic love poem entitled 'Majnoon Laila', or 'Laila Wal Majnoon', (which means 'Laila and the Possessed' or 'Laila and the Madman'), to music, dance, song and drama by Marcel Khalife.
The performance premiered in Bahrain on 1 and 2 March 2007 as part of the inauguration of the annual Spring of Culture Festival which was organised by the Bahraini Ministry of Information. Marcel Khalife sang at the show while male and female dancers staged the relationship between the two famous Arab lovers, Laila and Qais.
The show was attacked by fundamentalist members of the Bahraini parliament as being in violation of Islamic morals and sharia laws after an Islamic preacher, Sheikh Ali Matar, had complained in a prayer sermon that the Spring of Culture
Festival features a play with scenes that "arouse [sexual] instincts" and "encourage debauchery".
Parliament second vice-chairman Dr Salah Abdulrahman said the event included "sleazy dance moves" which were offensive to Muslims and non-Muslims.
On 13 March 2007 the Bahraini parliament voted to create an investigative committee look into the controversy. Islamists control three-quarters of the 40 seats in the parliament in Bahrain.
Defending freedom of expression
"This is a dangerous precedent that will take us back to the Middle Ages and the Inquisition," said theatre director Khaled al-Roueie to Agence France Presse's writer Mohammad Fadhel.
"We have resolved to wage a battle to defend freedom of
expression and creativity, and we will mobilise all intellectuals and artists to confront this precedent, which risks undermining our liberties," said Ibrahim Abu Hindi, who heads a writers' association.
Mohammad Fadhel writes that the Bahraini press joined the fray, running editorials and interviews with thinkers and artists describing the parliament's move as an attempt to "gag" citizens.
The Spring of Culture Festival runs in Bahrain until mid-April 2007.
"Morality is doing what is right, regardless what we are told.
Religious dogma is doing what we are told, no matter what is right."