Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila's show canceled to 'prevent bloodshed'

Mashrou' Leila's performance at the Byblos International Festival, scheduled for August 9, was canceled Mashrou' Leila's performance at the Byblos International Festival, scheduled for August 9, was canceled "to prevent bloodshed and maintain peace and security," event organizers said in a statement on Tuesday. The group has performed at the festival twice before, in 2010 and 2016.

Critics say the cancellation is a worrying development for freedom of expression in Lebanon.

Threats to violently disrupt the concert swirled on social media after high-profile Christian activists accused the band of producing songs offensive to the religion.

In a statement on Tuesday, the band, whose frontman is openly gay, said their lyrics were "misinterpreted."

"We were shocked by the magnitude of the accusations and the alteration of the lyrics' meanings," the group said in the statement. "The systematic campaign against us reached the level of threats and bloodshed."

Mashrou' Leila was cleared of wrongdoing last week after an investigation by authorities, according to Lebanon's National News Agency. But threats against the band persisted, sparking outrage from civil society groups and international rights organization.

One activist filed a lawsuit against members of the campaign against the group.

"I filed a lawsuit against the people that are threatening with weapons, with killing, with beatings," lawyer and human rights activist Khaled Merheb told CNN. "They had a WhatsApp group where they were talking about how they were going to destroy everyone who was going to the concert. And they were showing weapons, like guns," he added.

Read the full story at https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/31/middleeast/mashrou-leila-canceled-byblos-festival-intl/index.html

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