Human Right Watch has reported attacks on Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila as part of the unfortunate pursuit of a crackdown on free speech in Lebanon. According to Human Right Watch,
The world famous Lebanese band, Mashrou’ Leila, has become the latest victim of Lebanon’s criminal defamation and insult laws, encapsulating the alarming crackdown on free speech in a country once proud to embrace diversity.
Mashrou’ Leila is slated to perform at Lebanon’s Byblos Festival on August 9. But this week a lawyer filed a complaint with the public prosecution calling on the state to prosecute the band on archaic and vague laws that criminalize insulting religious rituals and inciting sectarian tensions. Each of the “crimes” Mashrou’ Leila is accused of carries a maximum prison term of three years.
The same day the complaint was filed, the Maronite Catholic Eparchy of Byblos issued a statement claiming that the band’s songs “offend religious and human values and insult Christian beliefs,” and demanded the Byblos Festival cancel the show. A social media storm ensued, as internet users hurled insults and violent threats at the band.
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