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Unacceptable discrimination

Spanish politicians need to make their position clear on the political and religious intolerance to which Jewish-American singer Matisyahu has been subjected

US singer Matisyahu during a concert in Seattle.
US singer Matisyahu during a concert in Seattle.Mat Hayward (Getty Images)

The decision by the organizers of the Rototom Sunsplash music festival in Benicássim to ban reggae singer Matisyahu from performing this Saturday is a serious case of religious and political discrimination that demands a response by this country’s politicians.

Under pressure from several NGOs and movements calling for a boycott of Israel over the military occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza, the organizers of the event demanded that Matthew Paul Miller, who performs under the name of Matisyahu, and is a US citizen, make a statement supporting the creation of a Palestinian state. Miller, an internationally renowned performer of rap-reggae, is a practicing Jew, and until recently appeared on stage wearing traditional Orthodox Jewish clothing.

Defense of the Palestinians cannot be used as cover for persecution of those who hold different views

He is the only musician performing at Rototom, which is funded with public money, who has been demanded to make such a statement, and to make matters worse, he has been asked to do so solely on the grounds that he is Jewish: as said, he is not an Israeli national. When Miller refused to comply, the organizers of Rototom decided to cancel his appearance, scheduled for the final night of the eight-day festival. But the Spanish Constitution explicitly forbids any type of discrimination on the grounds of “birth, race, sex, religion, opinion, or any other personal or social condition or circumstance.”

It is absolutely unacceptable that in the Spain of the 21st century, individuals and organizations can still demand that somebody explain themselves in ideological terms in order to be able to exercise their profession, and takes us back to the dark days when everybody was required to prove their religiosity and purity of blood.

Anti-Semitism and discrimination on the grounds of ideology cannot be tolerated and must be stood up to. Criticism of Israel’s policies and defense of the Palestinians cannot be used as cover for systematic persecution of those who hold different views, or because they are Jewish. Spain’s politicians need to speak out about this scandal that questions this country’s commitment to free speech and thought.


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