Rights groups demand release of Palestinian DJ after rave at Muslim holy site

Head of Independent Palestinian Commission for Human Rights says Sama Abd al-Hadi received permission from PA to hold dance event at Nabi Musa, slams arrest as ‘not logical’

Sama Abd al-Hadi (Screen capture: YouTube)
Sama Abd al-Hadi (Screen capture: YouTube)

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Rights groups on Tuesday demanded that Palestinian authorities free a woman disc jockey arrested after a dance event at a Muslim religious site near the West Bank city of Jericho.

Palestinian Authority 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.

Ammar Dweik, director of the Independent Palestinian Commission for Human Rights, said that she was remanded in custody on Tuesday for a further 15 days.

Her family said 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 and the Haaretz daily called her the “Palestinian Techno Queen.”

Dweik, whose organization was founded by the PA, said that Abd al-Hadi had official permission for the event at Nabi Musa.

“We asked today for her release because her arrest is not logical,” he told AFP. “She had received an authorization from the ministry of tourism.”

“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 authorization.”

Videos from the Nabi Musa showed a rave held at the scene, featuring young Palestinians and Arab Israelis dancing and drinking.

The festivities appeared to have alcohol and men and women dancing together at the Muslim holy site. Most forms of Islam forbid drinking alcohol, and mixed dancing is also controversial in many parts of conservative Palestinian society.

Palestinian and Arab Israeli rave attendees make merry at the Nabi Musa mosque in the West Bank on December 26, 2020 (Screenshot/Twitter)

The event, one comment on Twitter said, “is really disgusting. It is an insult to the three (monotheistic) religions.”

“How dare a bunch of liberal Palestinians party at the Nabi Musa mosque?”

At one point, men entered the site and pushed participants out.

The event also took place despite coronavirus restrictions in force in the West Bank.

Most of the revelers on Saturday night were either Arab Israelis or Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, and the matter is currently being processed by the Israel Police. A spokesperson for the police’s West Bank Division could not be reached for comment.

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, slammed the “arbitrary arrest” which he said was aimed at satisfying a section of Palestinian opinion.

Asked by AFP for comment, Palestinian police said the case was in the hands of the government.

A government official said that he could not comment as the issue was subject to the ongoing commission of inquiry.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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