A concert that was supposed to take place in Ramallah over the weekend for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community was called off following threats from Palestinian activists.
East Jerusalem singer-songwriter and video artist Bashar Murad was supposed to perform at the concert, which was scheduled to be held at Al-Mustawda3 Cultural Center on Friday night.
Ramallah show details are here! JUNE 17 @ AL-MUSTAWDA3 pic.twitter.com/BMODHHIyo5— Bashar Murad #FreePalestine (@Bashar__Murad) June 7, 2022
In 2019, Murad was involved with Globalvision, an alternative concert that was live-streamed simultaneously with Eurovision in Tel Aviv. After the concert, Murad released a duet with Hatari, the Icelandic techno-punk band whose members unfurled a Palestinian scarf when the results were announced.
In a 2021 interview with the New Arab news website, Murad said: “Growing up, I struggled because I’m Palestinian and then I struggled because I’m gay.”
“Growing up, I struggled because I’m Palestinian and then I struggled because I’m gay.”Bashar Murad
"There is barely any queer representation, especially in the Middle East. Even so, I don't always want to be labelled as a queer artist or gay Palestinian, because at the end of the day, I'm human." Our interview with @Bashar__Murad #Pride #Pride2022 https://t.co/DNjTJQO5Ya— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) June 16, 2022
He later told the BBC: “I was proud of the guys. They were the only contestants who actually made a statement.”
In a video posted on social media, a group of activists is seen arriving at the center where the concert was supposed to take place.
"Don't test our patience"
The leader of the group, Yaman Jarrar, is the son of prominent Hamas preacher and YouTube figure Sheikh Bassam Jarrar, who is famous for his “prophecy” that Israel will cease to exist in 2022.
In the video, Yaman is heard telling people at the center: “There’s a guy called Bashar Murad who’s supposed to hold a party here today. Bashar Murad is gay. This person is banned from holding a concert. He does not represent us or any of our free people. We came here to advise you in a respectful manner. We are talking to you in a nice way; don’t test our patience. Anyone who dares to harm our religion will be crossing a redline.”
Jarrar later published a post on Facebook in which he explained why he and his friends decided to prevent the concert from taking place in Ramallah.
“While the young men of Jenin are sacrificing their lives for the beloved homeland, a suspicious group tried to hold a gay party in Ramallah,” he wrote, referring to the killing of three Palestinian gunmen by the IDF in Jenin last week. “A group of young men who care about their religion and homeland went to the place of the concert and informed the suspicious party’s organizers of the need to evacuate the place and respect the blood of the martyrs.”
“While the young men of Jenin are sacrificing their lives for the beloved homeland, a suspicious group tried to hold a gay party in Ramallah. A group of young men who care about their religion and homeland went to the place of the concert and informed the organizers of the suspicious party of the need to evacuate the place and respect the blood of the martyrs.”Yaman Jarrar
Jarrar said that he and his friends were “surprised when some of the gay people mocked our religion and threw trash and stones at us while we were preforming the evening prayer in front of the center.”
PA banned LGBTQ activities
In 2019, the Palestinian Authority banned members of the LGBTQ community from carrying out any activities in the West Bank.
The ban came after the grassroots group Al-Qaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society was planning to hold a meeting for its members in the city of Nablus.
PA Police spokesperson Luay Zreikat said that such activities are “harmful to the values and ideals of Palestinian society.” He accused unnamed “dubious parties” of working to “create discord and harm civic peace in Palestinian society.”