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December 31, 2020 2:42 pm

Online Petition Calling for PA to Release Detained Palestinian DJ Surpasses 80,000 Signatures

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Samaa Abdulhadi in an interview with BBC. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

An online petition calling for the Palestinian Authority to release detained Palestinian disc jockey and “queen of techno music” Samaa Abdulhadi has garnered more than 80,000 signatures since its launch on Wednesday.

PA police arrested Abdulhadi, 30, for organizing and playing music at a party on Saturday that took place at the Muslim holy shrine of Nabi Musa in the West Bank, where the Prophet Moses is believed to be buried. Alcohol was served at the gathering, which also featured the mingling of men and women, both of which are forbidden by Islamic religious guidelines.

Abdulhadi was charged with violating article 275 of the Palestinian penal code — which criminalizes the “desecration” of holy sites or symbols done with the intent of insulting a religion or particular group — and with violating COVID-19 restrictions, her lawyer told CNN.

The Palestinian techno DJ, who is an internationally well-known, said she received the necessary permits from the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to film a recording at the site that included scenes of a techno party.

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The online petition for the DJ’s release states that “Abdulhadi and the organizers of the concert may not have realized that this type of music was unsuitable for the site and its historical, religious and cultural associations, yet it remains that the Ministry of Tourism bears full responsibility for taking the decision to allow the concert to take place.”

“Sama Abdulhadi is being made a scapegoat and held accountable for a crime that did not happen and one that she certainly did not commit,” it continued. “We call for her immediate release and respect for cultural and artistic freedom and rights by the Palestinian Authority.”

The hashtag #FreeSama has gone viral on social media.

CNN obtained a letter from the tourism ministry showing that Abdulhadi and a production company were granted permission to film at Nabi Musa as long as they would “adhere to the necessary safety measures” and “respect the site’s religious and cultural significance and privacy.” Her father rejected accusations that she desecrated a holy site, saying that the party took place in another part of the compound, away from the mosque and in an open area with no more than 30 people in attendance.

The Palestinian Authority rejected Abdulhadi’s request for bail on Tuesday and extended her detention for 15 days. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh, who is also the minister for religious affairs, has formed a committee to investigate the matter.

Ammar Dweik, director of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights, said Abdulhadi told him that the Tourism Ministry recommended she use Nabi Musa for filming and she had “no intention to harm the feelings of any religious group,” he told BBC.

“Nebi Mussa is not only a religious site but also a tourist site,” he explained. “If electronic music was not appropriate for it, the ministry should not have given its authorization.”

Shawan Jabarin, general director of the Palestinian rights group Al-Haq, condemned Abdulhadi’s “arbitrary arrest” and said it was done to pacify the Palestinian public.

Abdulhadi is the granddaughter of Essam Abdel Hadi, a founder of the PLO and leader of the Palestinian women’s movement, according to Al-Monitor.

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