Palestinian DJ Sama’ arrested over event at historic West Bank site

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© Desiré van den Berg

A petition has been launched calling for her immediate release following an arrest on 27 December.

Palestinian DJ Sama’, aka Sama Abdulhadi, has been arrested after playing an event near the West Bank city of Jericho. Abdulhadi is regarded as a trailblazer for electronic music, and more specifically techno, in the region.

Abdulhadi was arrested on 27 December along with several others following an event on 26 December at the Nabi Musa historical site, which is believed by many to house the tomb of the prophet Moses. As Mixmag reports, the event did not take place inside the holy shrine but in an area of the building that hosts events like “weddings, birthdays and cultural events”.

An online petition calling for Abdulhadi’s immediate release has been launched. At the time of writing (30 December) it has over 42,000 signatures.

The petition states that the arrest occurred after “the attack on a private recording for a streamed performance [at] the Nabi Mousa in Jericho by a group of young people, who stopped the event and threatened the attendees. This attack was followed by a vicious campaign of misinformation on social media which fuelled violent reactions and personal attacks against Sama'” [sic]. It adds that yesterday (29 December) a judge decided to extend Abdulhadi’s detention for a further 15 days because “techno music is not part of Palestinian heritage!”

It also states that the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism gave written approval for the event to take place in the Bazaar site – excluding the mosque – and for it to be filmed in order to promote “Palestinian heritage sites and Palestinian techno music amongst music audiences around the world.”

Ammar Dweik, director of the Independent Palestinian Commission for Human Rights, told AFP, “We asked today for her release because her arrest is not logical… She had received an authorisation from the ministry of tourism.” [sic]

He added, “Nebi Mussa is not only a religious site but also a tourist site… If electronic music was not appropriate for it, the ministry should not have given its authorisation.” [sic]

One attendee told Mixmag, “What made this worse is a lot of lies [were] told about the nature of the event, claiming it was very immoral and a desecration of a holy place. What needed to happen immediately was for the PA ministry responsible to clearly state it gave a permit for the use of this historic/cultural site, rather than throwing Sama’ under the bus to satisfy the public.”

Revisit our 2018 feature on Sama’ and sign the petition here.