PA faces widespread criticism for arrest of female musician

The PA said it has formed a commission of inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the affair.

THE PALESTINIAN flag flies at a Palestinian Authority diplomatic post. (photo credit: REUTERS)
THE PALESTINIAN flag flies at a Palestinian Authority diplomatic post.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Palestinian Authority is facing widespread criticism and pressure for the continued incarceration of Palestinian musician and artist Sama Abdulhadi, the first internationally celebrated Palestinian female DJ.
Abdulhadi was detained by the PA police on Sunday, hours after hundreds attacked a private recording for a streamed performance at the Maqam Nabi Musa touristic, archaeological and religious site near Jericho.
The attackers, mostly young men from east Jerusalem, accused Sama and her friends of “desecrating” the site, which, in addition to a guesthouse and halls, also includes a mosque. The attackers also denounced the PA government for authorizing the music event.
The PA said it has formed a commission of inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the affair.
Over the past few days, Palestinians rampaged through the site and set fire to furniture and other equipment.
The site was recently renovated with the help of the European Union.
Abdulhadi’s family said she was arrested although she had received a written permit from the PA Tourism Ministry to organize and film the concert in the Bazaar site, and not in the mosque itself.
The ministry was aware that Abdulhadi and her friends were planning to play techno music at the site as part of a campaign to promote Palestinian heritage sites and Palestinian techno music around the world.
By Wednesday evening, more than 50,000 people had signed an online petition calling for the immediate release of the woman. Several Palestinian and international human rights groups and advocates have also demanded the immediate release of the musician.
On Tuesday, a PA court in Jenin ordered Abdulhadi remanded into custody for an additional 15 days.
A PA prosecutor said that she is suspected of violating Article 275 of the Palestinian Penal Law, which states that “whoever destroys, damages or defiles any place of worship or any object which is held sacred by any class of persons with the intention to insult their religion shall be punished by imprisonment from one month to two years.
Abdulhadi’s family called for her immediate release and pointed out that she had received written approval from the PA Tourism Ministry to hold the music event.
In a statement, the family said that Sama and her friends did not storm the Nabi Musa site. “Rather, she applied for a permit according to the established procedures, adhered to safety procedures and respected the rules for using the place,” the family explained.
“Although the choice of the site may indicate a miscalculation on the part of the organizers, we emphasize that the Palestinian Authority considers the place a cultural and tourism monument, as it has handed over its responsibility to the Tourism Ministry, which is authorized to give approval to organize events there.
Abdulhadi requested the necessary approvals from the ministry, which was fully aware of all its details, and the permit was obtained to film in the bazaar square, and this is what happened.”
According to the family, the aim of the event was to film an episode about “electronic music in Palestine at an archaeological and tourist site.”
The family denied that there were any acts that violated “public morals” during the ceremony, or that there was a so-called devil worship there, as claimed by many Palestinians on various social media platforms.
“Sama Abdulhadi belongs to a Palestinian family known for its patriotism and its cultural, artistic and literary contributions,” the family noted. “Her musical talent and interest helped her carry Palestine to global venues with millions of listeners and followers around the world.
“Although the type of music Sama performs may seem strange to some, and not necessarily related to our heritage and culture, it has become part of the contemporary musical culture that connects Palestinian and international youth.”