Human Rights Watch

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Mashrou’ Leila is Lebanon’s Latest Free Speech Victim

Artistic Freedoms under Threat from Outdated Laws

Friday 26 July 2019


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.

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