Three more Arab performers pull out of Austrian music festival due to Israel embassy sponsorship

Malikah performs in March 2012 at the Democratic Republic of Music in Beirut, Lebanon.

Hibr Flickr

Three more artists have announced they have pulled out of Austria’s government-funded Salam.Orient cultural festival because it is sponsored by the Israeli embassy.

Syrian singer Lena Chamamyan, Lebanese MC Malikah (Lynn Fattouh), and Palestinian DJ Sotusura will now no longer perform at the festival which runs in Vienna and Graz between 16 October and 10 November.

This follows yesterday’s announcement by Palestinian MC Boikutt that he had quit the festival.

In a statement on her Facebook page, Chamamyan said that, “The Arab community in Austria contacted me yesterday, asking about my participation in Salam.Orient Festival 2012 knowing that the Israeli embassy’s logo was showing as one of the sponsors on the festival’s official poster.”

Chamamyan said that she had been unaware of the sponsorship, but as soon as she learned, she informed organizers of her withdrawal. She said organizers had offered to remove the Israeli logo from the venue during her performance, but that she had decided to pull out nonetheless. Hinting at accusations of prejudice by the organizers, Chamamyan affirmed:

My problem is not with Judaism, nor with any other culture or belief, unlike how the festival’s management hinted. My problem is about accepting the Israeli authority’s inhumane politics and tendency for atrocities and human rights violation by taking lives and building the famous “Israeli West Bank barrier”, which does not get along with my idea about breaking all walls and barriers between all human beings all over the planet, starting by politically-constructed barriers. Therefore, as that the festival’s vision does not agree with my own vision as a human first and as an artist second, I announce, as a Syrian Arab singer, my wish of not participating in the festival’s concerts for this year, yet hoping to meet you all soon in our homeland, until we truly find peace.

Malikah also announced her and DJ Sotusura’s withdrawal on her Facebook page, stating, “I cannot participate in an event sponsored by a Colonial Occupying Force, especially when the occupied subject is us.”

Malikah has performed throughout the Arab world, including in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Tunisia, Kuwait, Oman, Dubai, becoming the first Arab female MC to reach NRJ radio network’s top 20 billboard chart in the Middle East.

DJ Sotusura confirmed by email, “we really were looking forward coming to Austria to perform, but we unfortunately can’t do so under these circumstances.”

In its guidelines, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) calls performers and other cultural workers to boycott events sponsored by official Israeli bodies. PACBI released a letter in Arabic thanking Chamamyan for her stance, saying it was an example for all Arab artists.

More about the artists

Lena’s Chamamyan sings “Lamma bada”

Malikah “The Queen of Arab Rap”

TRADITIONS - The Lo Frequency (featuring Malikah)

* AFP video report about Malikah * Malikah’s Twitter: @MALIKAH961 * Malikah’s music on Facebook

El Far3i & El Rass- MEEM, produced by El Far3i-DJ Sotusura:

* DJ Sotusura on Facebook




Unfortunately, Christl, that sort of participatory strategy, or the tactic of entering into dialogue, is behind us historically. It is a classical liberal position to attempt to occupy -- like protestors who march peacefully around the G 20 while imperialist leaders are unhindered in making their imperialist decisions. The question is, do we lose more than we accomplish by entering into this sort of democratic discourse? I think so.