A Tunisian singer has shocked the Arab world by announcing that her upcoming concert in Tunisia had been cancelled due to supposed “legitimisation” of Israel.
Emel Mathlouthi performed in July in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, as well as Ramallah and Bethlehem, both situated in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. She did not perform in Israel. according to Al Arabiya on August 2.
Artists performing in Israel are often met with fierce criticism by pro-Palestinian artists and the BDS movement, which calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel over the country’s continuing mistreatment of the Palestinian people.
Pro-Palestinian activist and Pink Floyd co-founder, Roger Waters is well-known for his criticism of fellow artists who perform in Israel and has repeatedly dubbed the country an “apartheid state”.
However this is not the case with the Tunisian singer.
Mathlouthi, 41, stated on a post on Instagram, “I am very sorry to announce our much-awaited concert in Hammamet has been cancelled with no official reason.”
The Tunisian artist was due to perform at the annual Hammamet International Festival in the country’s coastal city.
“We believe that our latest tour in beautiful Palestine has sparked an unjustified controversy accusing me of normalization”, she says.
Mathlouthi is backed by the BDS movement, and she claimed in her statement that no BDS guidelines were breached when performing in the region.
General director of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music at Birzeit University, Suhail Khoury who invited the Tunisian artist to perform, said “she should be commended and not condemned for what she did.”
The Tunisian people as well as the inhabitants of many countries in that region, are very supportive of the Palestinian cause and have called for the boycott of Israel, whether that be the nation’s goods, services and cultural investments.
The Ramallah concert concluded with the 41-year-old singing a Palestinian ballad “Wein a Ramallah” whilst waving a Palestinian flag.
She noted that the cancellation of her show in Hammamet was a personal attack on her and what she stands for and urged other artists from Arab countries to speak out in defence of the Palestinians.