FILE PHOTO: Hamed Sinno, lead singer of Lebanese alternative rock band Mashrou' Leila, performs with his band during a concert in Beirut, Lebanon, August 6, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/
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The Lebanese indie-rock band Mashrou' Leila will no longer play at this summer's Byblos International Festival, its performance having been canceled following pressure from Christian groups.The committee's decision follows fierce online attacks on the band and pressure from a number of Christian groups, including the Maronite Archdiocese of Jbeil, as well as the Catholic Media Center and the Episcopal Media Committee.Whether those songs and the image are the true subject of the detractors' ire is questionable. The band has taken the stage in Lebanon multiple times since the album's 2015 release -- in Ehden in both 2017 and 2018, and in Beirut in 2018 -- as well as performing in other parts of the Arab world and across Europe and the United States.Many insults and threats leveled at the band in the past week also referenced homosexuality. In a statement Tuesday evening, Mashrou' Leila alleged that the state's weak response to the vicious rhetoric against the band -- some of which had called for the use of force -- had made its members feel unsafe.One Twitter user, Naji Emile Hayek, had threatened that if the band were permitted to play, he would stop the performance "by force".So far, only the band members have faced interrogation.Dozens of protesters gathered Monday in Beirut's Samir Kassir Square to denounce the attacks on the band.
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