Twitter storm: Lebanon censorship row as revolutionary lyrics swapped for 'la la la'

Screengrab of MTV footage of the Nahr el Kelb concert for Army Day in Lebanon that caused controversy by omitting revolutionary lyrics. (Screengrab)

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.

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 !!” 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.

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.

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.

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Last Update: Sunday, 02 August 2020 KSA 14:42 - GMT 11:42
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