Several religious figures and Christian groups have called on the cancellation of an upcoming concert of the Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila set for August 9 in Byblos over alleged offense to religion.
Controversy was sparked after the band’s lead singer Hamed Sinno shared an article on Facebook containing an image in which the Virgin Mary’s face had been replaced by that of American pop star Madonna.
Maronite Archdiocese of Jbeil denounced the concert in a statement condemning the band’s religious and sexual ideologies as conveyed in the content of the songs it performs and videos.
The statement urged for the suspension of the band “on the land of holiness, civilization and history, and leaves it up to the Catholic Information Center to do what is necessary,” as reported by the Daily Star newspaper.
They “undermine religious and human values, attack sacred symbols of Christianity,” the archbishop said in a statement.
The Catholic Information Center, an authority that works with the Lebanese authorities to censor artistic content, deemed the band as a “danger to society.”
“It is not permissible to insult religions under the guise of freedoms,” Head of the Catholic Information Center, Father Abdu Abu Kassa, claimed.
The director of the Byblos International Festival pointed out that it was working on solving this issue out of the public eye.
The band expressed shock of the objections in a statement published on Monday on its social media pages saying that they “respected all religions and their symbols,” and they were saddened by “wrong interpretations” and “the distortion of the lyrics of some of our songs.”
“We are four Lebanese boys from different religious faiths, who combined our love of music and studying engineering at the American University of Beirut. Our goal is to raise the art and highlight humanitarian issues and raise the name of Lebanon in the world. No more, no less,” the band added.
“We got a feature in The New York Times. Which makes it all sad to see what’s happening back home,” Mashrou Leila told The Daily Star.