A concert put on for Lebanon’s Army Day has sparked accusations of censorship in the country after the band appeared to omit the revolutionary lyrics of a famous Lebanese song on live television, reigniting ongoing anti-government sentiment in the country.
On Saturday, Lebanese channel MTV broadcast a concert to commemorate Army Day that took place without an audience in Nahr el-Kelb. Under the title “For you, Lebanon” the band performed a number of patriotic songs including “Ya Beirut,” a Lebanese classic by singer Majida El Roumi.
However, viewers quickly noticed that the band had not sung one of the central lyrics of the – "The revolution is born from the womb of sadness” – instead replacing it with “la la la la” and prompting accusations of censorship.
09 Aug 2008 | Few months after 7 May 2008#ان_الثوره_تولد_من_رحم_الاحزان— Amadea Beyrouthi (@AmadeaBeyrouthi) August 2, 2020
01 Aug 2020 | Few months after 17 October 2019#ان_الثوره_تولد_من_lalalalala
I am not sure where this "la la la" came from exactly: denial, fear, or threat. But it is surely a sign of weakness pic.twitter.com/74IUGFRpfO
The song sparked a wave of protest on social media, with the Arabic hashtag of the lyric “The revolution is born from the womb of sadness” the number one trending term on Twitter in several Arabic-speaking countries including the UAE on Sunday.
Twitter users posted previous footage showing the lyric being sung in full at an earlier concert.
What can one says bout a government that is afraid of a part of a song ??? There are no words ... by erasing these few words , do you think you are erasing it from our memories ?? That’s beyond stupidity !! #ان_الثوره_تولد_من_رحم_الاحزان— Pierre (@petoleb) August 2, 2020
“What can one says bout a government that is afraid of a part of a song ??? There are no words ... by erasing these few words , do you think you are erasing it from our memories ?? That’s beyond stupidity !!” tweeted one user.
Critics said that the change in lyrics was a deliberate attempt to avoid using the Arabic word for revolution, “thawra,” which has been one of the key chants of the anti-government protests that erupted in Lebanon in October 2019.
“You can delete a verse but you can’t delete an idea,” wrote one user.
You can delete a verse but you can’t delete an idea.#ان_الثورة_تولد_من_رحم_الاحزان— Hind Chahine (@hindbshaheen) August 2, 2020
Other shared images of the nationwide demonstrations and called for them to continue against the government.
The lyrics in the song were originally coined by the famous poet Nizar Qabbani, and other users paid homage to him.
Words still so relevant today. A city so easy & yet so taxing to love. The "goverment" using tactics straight out of dystopian president snow of panem's playbook, decided to remove the most important line in the poem while commemorating the army.#ان_الثوره_تولد_من_رحم_الاحزان pic.twitter.com/a1FPF4XfNA— Rani Haddad (@4484) August 2, 2020
According to Lebanon’s LBCI channel cited by French-language Lebanese news outlet L’Orient Le Jour, the army’s commander-in-chief distanced himself from the lyric change and said it had not been requested by the armed forces.