An attack on Lowkey is an attack on allies of Palestine
The attack on Lowkey, an Iraqi rapper and activist, by the Israel lobby and Tory MPs, is an attack on all artists and activists in Britain, and beyond, who expose Israeli crimes against Palestinians.
Hip hop artist Lowkey, is facing growing attempts by a pro-Israel lobby group to have his music removed from Spotify, a popular audio streaming service.
It is no surprise that Lowkey is feared by the Israel lobby. After all, he has provided an international anthem in solidarity with Palestine that is listened to around the world.
He is also an important voice highlighting the dehumanisation of refugees from Africa, South Asia and the Middle East. He was one of the only people with a platform to speak up when Mohammed Munib Majeedi, an Afghan child, died unjustly when the UK Home Office housed his family in a hazardous hotel in Sheffield.
''Removing Lowkey’s music from Spotify would be setting a tone. It would be saying that his lyrics calling out Israel’s violence against Palestinians are less acceptable than Israel’s actual physical aggression against Palestinians.''
Lowkey has also been an important voice in the struggle for justice for Grenfell, from providing personal support to his community impacted, to spreading knowledge on the horrors of the British government’s negligence.
He has also used his role with Mint Press and A-Political to amplify the voices of those they seek to silence. His guests have included Palestinian child prisoner Ahed Tamimi who was imprisoned by the Israeli state and families of those murdered in police custody in the UK. He has also kept audiences informed of the ongoing case of whistle-blower Julian Assange.
So, yes, in many ways, it’s no surprise he’s in the firing line.
Lowkey makes political knowledge accessible through his protest songs, and that makes him a huge target for silencing. Deleting him from Spotify is therefore deleting a library of knowledge to the poor and marginalised – those often referred to as “hard to reach communities”.
This also raises a lot of questions about the role that Spotify could be taking in repressing artists and entertaining media pressure from pro-Israel groups. The question of violence within music has been an ongoing and often racist, repressive tendency. Drill artists for example have been attacked and accused of glamorising violence.
Removing Lowkey’s music from Spotify would be setting a tone. It would be saying that his lyrics calling out Israel’s violence against Palestinians are less acceptable than Israel’s actual physical aggression against Palestinians.
Not to mention, Spotify stands to lose the support of thousands internationally for censoring free speech.
Tonight, Students & NUS delegates scaled the roof & gate crashed the NUS' 100th birthday party venue. They acted in solidarity with @Lowkey0nline, who was cancelled from the event. Try to silence or set security on ANY of us & we'll come back louder, stronger and bolder... pic.twitter.com/BFThUwLKV9— Palestine Action (@Pal_action) March 28, 2022
Conceding would also limit Palestinians in refugee camps from receiving his poignant messages of solidarity. From Balata refugee camp in the West Bank, to Palestinian refugees in Chile and Lebanon, and Palestinians in Gaza, Lowkey’s music reminds them that they aren’t forgotten as Israel continues its violations of international law.
Collectively resisting this witch-hunt is necessary, we cannot afford to have even more artists, activists, academics, writers and poets with smaller platforms, facing similar smears. This concerns everyone who supports Palestinian liberation.
Student activists, alongside direct action group Palestine Action showed the way when they gate-crashed and occupied the National Union of Students (NUS) event recently. This followed the NUS withdrawing an invitation for Lowkey to perform following similar smears of anti-Semitism. This was quite a shocking move given he has been such an integral part of solidarity efforts in UK universities for at least a decade.
Defiant solidarity is necessary to demonstrate to the Israel lobby and all those complicit in censoring the question of Palestine, that they will be held accountable.
As activists and artists, we should not be put in a pressured position to compromise our morals to appease those who whitewash the Israeli occupation. Take a walk in Hebron, in the West Bank, or by Damascus Gate in Jerusalem and try to deny the Israeli military occupation is inhumane.
Integrity and standing with those occupied and marginalised should be applauded.
We deserve a world where there is hope and those fighting for state violence to be eradicated from Britain to Palestine, deserve all the support.
Collectively, we must stand firmly by Lowkey. Spotify, NUS and all organisations that find themselves in a similar position, must see this for what it is, a pro-Israel smear campaign.
The petition for Spotify to not remove Lowkey’s music has gathered over 37,000 signatures in just one week. Please sign the petition.
Solidarity with Lowkey and Palestine, always.
Shareefa Energy is a poet, creative facilitator and grassroots activist and campaigner.
Follow her on Twitter: @ShareefaEnergy
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Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.