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Bahrain Salafist society wants concerts cancelled

Al Asala argues for spiritualism, compassion for tragedy victims

Gulf News

Manama: A Salafist society in Bahrain has called for the cancellation of the annual summer festival in respect of the Arabs and Muslims suffering in several countries.

“We request the culture ministry to respond to the wishes of the Bahraini street and respect the feelings of the Arab and Islamic nation during these critical times,” Al Asala posted on its website. “There are currently grave tragedies and calamities in Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq and there are also destructive catastrophes. The forces of evil are targeting the nation. Innocent people are being killed and our brethren are being bombarded with chemicals,” the society said.

Such terrible exceptional conditions require a greater display of respect and the cancellation of all music festivals, dances and concerts to be held by the culture ministry in August and September, Al Asala said.

The ministry last week announced a programme of cultural events as part of the fifth Bahrain summer festival. Lebanese singer Majida Al Roumi, Arab Idol 2013 winner Mohammad Assaf, from Palestine, and Iraqi maqam specialist Fareeda Mohammad Ali will be among the top performers.

In introducing the festival, the ministry said that it will “bring its action-packed family-friendly line-up of amazing shows and events that will entertain and educate audiences from all ages and facilitate cultural exchange and dialogue.”

“The festival will focus on bringing people and nations together to engage and interact as evidenced by its multi-cultural lineup of shows and activities,” Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammad Al Khalifa, the culture minister, said.

“This year’s fifth edition of Bahrain Summer Festival is part of Manama: Capital of Arab Tourism 2013 leisure tourism season, with shows ranging from local, regional and international music performances, theatrical plays, art exhibitions, and much more,” she said.

However, Al Asala said that the plans for the concerts and the other events should be dropped.

“Inviting singers and dancers from different parts of the world clashes with the spiritual values promoted by the sacred month of Ramadan. We do not wish to see people come out of the high spiritualism of the month to find a line-up of songs and dances waiting for them,” the society said.

Ramadan, the month during which all physically fit Muslim men and women abstain from food and drink from sunrise until sunset is expected to start on July 9 and end on August 7. The summer festival is scheduled for August 18–September 9.

Al Asala said that people in Bahrain needed to focus more on spiritual devotion.

“God the Almighty saved Bahrain from a terrible sedition in 2011 thanks to the prayers of the people and His mercy on us. We should be grateful and we should obey God. Bahrain needs to thank God for His blessings. We stress that these concerts should be replaced with events that are tolerated in our religion and condoned by our values,” Al Asala said.