July 24, 2019 / 5:32 PM / a month ago

Lebanese police to probe rock band for 'insulting religion': lawyer

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanese police will investigate a complaint against the rock band Mashrou’ Leila for insulting religion, a lawyer in the case said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Lebanese alternative rock band Mashrou' Leila performs during the Ehdeniyat International Festival in Ehden, Lebanon, August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

The lawyer, Christine Nakhoul, said she had submitted the complaint against the band to the prosecutor’s office, which was directing it to the police.

The Lebanese group has an openly gay vocalist and its songs have stirred controversy with lyrics tackling oppression, classism, sectarianism and homophobia.

On Monday, church leaders called for a concert that Mashrou’ Leila is due to give at a music festival next month to be canceled.

The plaintiff in the case against the band, Philippe Seif, said his complaint alleged that the band had insulted religious icons on its social media pages.

Mashrou’ Leila made no comment on Tuesday beyond a statement it had made on Monday over calls for its concert to be canceled.

“We are not on some sort of mission to arbitrarily blaspheme and disrespect people’s religious symbols,” it said in Monday’s statement.

The Maronite Catholic Eparchy of Jbeil (Byblos) said most of the band’s songs “violate religious values” and it was not becoming for the festival to host concerts “directly at odds with Christian faith”.

The Byblos International Festival has not yet commented on the matter.

Rights group Amnesty International has called on Lebanese authorities to ensure that the concert goes ahead and to “take the necessary measures to ensure the band is protected from this spiteful campaign”.

Reporting by Ayat Basma and Angus McDowall, Editing by William Maclean

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