Rights groups demand that Palestinian Authority release prominent DJ

Rights groups demand that the Palestinian Authority free a prominent disc jockey arrested after a dance event at a Muslim religious site near the West Bank city of Jericho.

PA police arrested Sama Abd al-Hadi, 30, on Sunday, the day after she performed at Nabi Musa, the traditional burial place of Moses under Islamic tradition. Video of the event posted on social media showed men and women dancing together at the gathering, sparking public anger and accusations of desecration of the site, where there is a mosque.

Ammar Dweik, director of the Independent Palestinian Commission for Human Rights, says she was remanded in custody today for a further 15 days.

Dweik, whose organization was founded by the PA, says Abd al-Hadi had official permission for the event.

“We asked today for her release because her arrest is not logical,” he tells AFP. “She had received an authorization from the ministry of tourism. Nabi Musa is not only a religious site but also a tourist site. If electronic music was not appropriate for it, the ministry should not have given its authorization.”

Her family says in a statement that an application for bail was rejected.

She is considered by many to be the first Palestinian woman to have become a professional disc jockey.

At the request of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh, a commission of inquiry was set up “to determine what happened at Nabi Musa.’

Shawan Jabarin, general director of Palestinian rights group Al-Haq, slams the “arbitrary arrest” which he says is aimed at satisfying a section of Palestinian opinion.

Asked by AFP for comment, police say the case is in the hands of the government. A government official says he cannot comment as the issue is subject to the ongoing commission of inquiry.