Jun 09, 2011 1:32 AM GMT
A leading Arab American group dropped a prominent Syrian-American musician from performing at their annual convention in a dispute over a freedom-tinged song that he was set to perform.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, a longtime Washington civil rights group, repeatedly asked the German-born Syrian composer and pianist Malek Jandali to reconsider his piece choice, Jandali told POLITICO. When he refused, Jandali was told today that he couldn't perform at this weekend's event.
Jandali's "Watani Ana: I am my Homeland" doesn't specifically mention Syria or the broader Arab Spring uprisings, but is heavy on the themes of freedom and liberty. Jandali calls it a "humanitarian song." But lyrics include "oh my homeland, when will I see you free" and "When the land is watered with the blood of martyrs and the brave/ And all the people shout: Freedom to mankind."
Jandali himself declined to speculate why he wasn't allowed to perform "Watani Ana," and an official at the ADC, Nabil Mohamad, refused to explain its decision.
"Is is it the words? The scale of the music? Was the rhythm too slow? Did the melody maybe bother them?" Jandali asked POLITICO. "I really would love to hear their answer. It would have been a perfect song."
"It doesn''t mention the word 'Arab' or 'Syria' or anything," he said. "It''s a humanitarian song."
However other observers speculated that the song's implications might have troubled the Syrian government, which is in the midst of a bloody crackdown on its citizens, or its allies. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has defied international calls to end the crackdown and ordered security forces into the streets to quell unrest. He has also ratcheted up tensions with neighboring Israel, allowing Palestinian and Syrian protesters to approach the sealed Syrian-Israeli boarder. Twenty-three of those demonstrators were later killed by Israeli forces after they tried to rush the border.