Western Saharan singer and actress Aziza Brahim has stated that she no longer plans to perform at the Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival in September.
In an announcement posted on the singer’s Facebook page, she said in Spanish and English that ”I’ve decided to cancel my concert at Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival. I want to express sincerely my followers’ understanding, support and the respect in which most of them have shown their opinions.”
According to a press release by BDS South Africa, some of Brahim’s “supporters and fans engaged with her via social media urging the artist to cancel her Israeli gig in solidarity with the Palestinian people.”
The release went on to say that campaigners had pointed out the parallels between Morocco’s illegal occupation of Western Sahara and Israel’s abuses of Palestinian rights.
As such, BDS South Africa called Brahim’s decision “an example of internationalism and the capacity to be involved in ones own struggle yet at the same time lend solidarity to others.”
Africa’s last colony
Aziza Brahim was born in the Sahrawi refugee camps which were established following the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara in 1975. Partly educated in Cuba, she won a Sahrawi national music competition in 1995 and launched a singing and acting career.
Some of her songs are based on poems by her grandmother, al-Khadra bint Mabruk, known as the “poet of the rifles” in the Sahrawi national movement.
Western Sahara has been called “Africa’s last colony.” Divided between Morocco and Mauritania when Spain withdrew in the 1970s, against the wishes of the Sahrawi people’s anti-colonial movement, thousands of Sahrawi people have lived in refugee camps in Algeria for four decades.
The two sections of Western Sahara are split by the world’s second-longest wall – a fate which is familiar to Palestinians. As with Palestine, the international community has failed to act on the issue of Western Sahara, with a referendum plan announced in 1991 never implemented.