British-Iranian singer Sami Yusuf 'banned by his own'
Iranian-born British singer Sami Yusuf expressed his disbelief following reports of Iranian state television banning his music from all its channels after he performed in the Israeli city of Nazareth.
Yusuf, once named "Islam’s biggest rock star" by Time magazine, is a world-renowned Muslim music artist who has sold millions of records to fans ranging from the UK to the Middle East to South Asia.
|I was not aware that bringing smiles to the faces of my beloved Palestinian brothers and sisters could cause such offence
The recent controversy erupted following Yusuf's performance in the predominantly Palestinian populated city of Nazareth during the Islamic month of Ramadan.
Although majority of his audience were Palestinians, Iran - which does not recognise Israel - manifested its displeasure with the ban.
“Sami Yusuf’s recent trip to the occupied territories (Christian and Jewish holy sites including the site of the baptism of Jesus Christ) is the reason why his works are banned from the state television,” Iranian news website, Entekhab reported.
World artists who perform in Israel become persona non grata in the Islamic Republic. Iranians are banned from travelling to Israel and those defying the ban risk being sentenced to five years in jail.
But the British star refused to apologise for his performance.
He reacted to the news by issuing a statement on his official website and social media pages with the headline “Banned by my very own.”
"I was very surprised to hear that the official state TV and Radio for the Islamic Republic of Iran has banned my music and likeness due to my recent performance in Nazareth" Yusuf said.
"I was not aware that bringing smiles to the faces of my beloved Palestinian brothers and sisters could cause such offence to the government of Iran. I am sorry that my precious listeners in Iran will be denied my music for sometime, but I will not apologise for performing in Palestine."
Yusuf added, "Music is permeable and was never meant to be confined to borders nor used for political ends, rather, it was meant to echo freely throughout space and time" ending with "May we one day see a Free Palestine."