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DJ Sama Abdulhadi released on bail, but barred from travel, after uproar from Palestinians

Sama Abdulhadi was released [Twitter]

Date of publication: 4 January, 2021

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Palestinian DJ Sama Abdulhadi was released on bail on Sunday.

Palestinian DJ Sama Abdulhadi was released on bail on Sunday but barred from travel by authorities, after she was detained for over a week following a techno set at a religious and tourist site in the occupied West Bank.

Abdulhadi was arrested on 28 December after she pre-recorded a private performance for Beatport's "The Residency" series at a shrine to the Prophet Moses, a figure revered in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.

According to a press release, the event was attended only by 30 friends, relatives, and members of the crew who were working on the production and had the approval of the PA.

It was held at the Nabi Musa shrine in the Palestinian West Bank, which is partially a place of worship but also a tourism site, after a cultural centre opened there in 2019.

Ammar Dweik, director of the Independent Palestinian Commission for Human Rights, last week asked the PA to release Abdulhadi, saying she had received permission to perform at the venue.

"Nabi Musa is not only a religious site but also a tourist site," he said. "If electronic music was not appropriate for it, the ministry should not have given its authorisation," he said.

When reached for comment by The New Arab, the PA's ministry of endowment and religious affairs denied they had granted permission for any music event to take place at the shrine.

Read also: Palestine in 2020: Reflections on a turbulent year

A petition demanding the PA release Abdulhadi gained worldwide traction with 101,753 signatures before it was closed.

The PA's public prosecutor has accused Abdulhadi of violating article 275 of the penal code.

This criminalises the "desecration" of religious sites and symbols carried out with the aim of hurting the sensibilities of a particular group, her lawyer said. She faces a prison sentence of up to two years, if found guilty.

Religious conservatives, who on social media described the techno gig as an "assault" on the holy site, shared a video which showed armed men storming the party and demanding that attendees leave.

One woman in the video responds to the unknown assailants leading the action, saying: "Welcome, welcome. Habibi, don't get angry."

Nearly a thousand Palestinians performed prayers at the site on Monday evening after calls from Palestinian political factions - including the Hamas Islamist party - to gather in a symbolic defence of the site's sacredness.

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