July 27th, 2011
Lebanese musician Zeid Hamdan was arrested today for allegedly defaming the Lebanese president in his song “General Suleiman,” which was released two years ago. I’ve enjoyed Hamdan’s music for years, specifically the recordings of his electro-pop band Soap Kills which he formed in 1977. Hamdan is also a frequent collaborator with a personal acquaintance, so this strikes close to home for me.
Hamdan rode his bike to the police station earlier today, thinking he was going to sign some papers. Instead, he was arrested.
“General Suleiman” ends by telling the general to “go home.” At the video’s screening, Hamdan stated that for him Michel Suleiman “was a neutral candidate who offered hope of putting an end to the war, but this was paradoxical because he’s a soldier”.
Hamdan’s lawyer released a statement, calling for the public to take a stand:
“This arrest hurts freedom of art and opinion and expression in Lebanon and reveals how authorities discard personal freedom.
What makes it really regrettable is that it happened in Lebanon at a time when we see revolutions in different Arab countries, to remove the holy status of Arab presidents and give back honour to Arab citizens.
Following what we have said, we ask the public to take a stand to defend the republic’s freedom in Lebanon.”
Tweets with the hashtag #freezeid are already circulating.
UPDATE: According to Zeid’s Twitter account, he has been released.
Here is the video:
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