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Broad front tries to block Algerian singer

Daily Star (Lebanon)
13 July 2002


A gathering of political parties and civil associations urged the government Friday to forbid Algerian singer Khaled from participating at the Beiteddine Festival, accusing him of supporting “normalization” with Israel.

In statement, the group said that the “King of Rai” had on more than one occasion praised the democracy of the “Zionist racist state.”

They also accused Khaled of performing a song last May with the Israeli singer Noa in a gathering called “the Meeting for Peace” organized by Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni, which was attended by Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, who was prime minister when the 1996 Qana massacre took place.

The participants urged President Emile Lahoud to intervene, especially since “Lebanon refuses to receive promoters of normalization with the Zionist enemy.”

The statement urged the Beiteddine Festival organizing committee to forbid Khaled from participating, while adding it was confident that the Lebanese public would boycott Monday’s performance.



Jordanians demand Rai singer 'apologize'

By Ibtisam Awadat,
Star Staff Writer
July 13, 2002

King of Rai, Algerian superstar Khaled was expected to be the super star of the upcoming Souk Ukaz cultural festival.


King of Rai, Algerian superstar Khaled was expected to be the super star of the upcoming Souk Ukaz cultural festival. However, a political debate has been brewing ever since his participation became known. News of Khaled's performance in Italy with Nowa, a Jewish singer, is causing an uproar notably among the Professional Associations and represented by their Anti-Normalization Committee (ANC).

The Committee called on the Algerian singer for a written apology, otherwise they would launch a campaign to boycott his concert in Amman.

In a reconciliatory move, director of the Middle East Center for Culture and Development (MECCAD) Iman Hindawi met with head of the Presidents' Council of the Professional Associations Hashim Gharaybeh and provided him with evidence regarding Khaled's stand which is against the Israeli practices on the Palestinian people.

Khaled is to perform on 18 July within the activities of Souk Ukaz which are taking place on 15-21 July. But news quickly spread about the participation of Khaled in a concert in Rome accompanied by Nowa, an Israeli singer of a Yemeni origin.

Reports said Khaled and Nowa presented a duet about peace and the need for the Palestinians to live in peace. Other news reports said the Algerian singer already recorded an album with Nowa.

The Rome concert was last May during a meeting between Palestinian and Israeli officials. Rome's Mayor Walter Viltroni organized a meeting attended by Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat's Advisor Mohammed Rashid.

"I wasn't the only Arab singer who participated in that concert, there was Palestinian singer Nabil Khouri, but I was the only one to be attacked," Khaled said in a telephone call with members of the press in Amman.

Gharaybeh said the Professional Associations are not against Souk Ukaz but their call for boycott aim at "preventing anyone who seeks to establish normal ties with Israel," Gharaybeh said in a press conference.

Gharaybeh pointed out the Associations will stop its boycott if "the artist declared his denunciation of Israeli practices and the refusal of normalization." Meanwhile, president of the Anti-Normalization Committee, Ali Abul Sukkar told The Star an apology will be satisfactory by Khaled who is still more popularly name as Chab Khaled, despite the fact that he dropped the first word from his artistic name back in 1996. "We haven't received any written clarification from Ukaz's organizers," However, Hindawi was reported to have told Gharaybeh a press conference will be organized prior to Khaled's concert to restate his position.

The Jordan Artists Association has not till now issued a permission for him to sing in Amman. The Association supports the ANC in its anti-normalization stand and will only permit Khaled to perform only if he apologizes for singing with Nowa. According to the Artists Associations Law, any Arab or foreign artist who wants to perform in Jordan has to get a prior permission from them.

In a press conference by the Ukaz organizers, Khaled told journalists via phone he completely rejects normalization saying "they [Israelis] are not my brothers". When questioned about singing with Nowa, Khaled asked "why not sing for peace?" He noted he already met with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and said he would like to organize a concert in Gaza for "the Palestinians who haven't been happy for 50 years," Khaled said.

Khaled is considered one of the innovators of Rai by adding new elements to its traditional style. He started playing at an early age, becoming well-versed in the guitar, bass, accordion and harmonica. His first recording was "La Route de Lyc?e while he was still 14 in1974. It was at that time the word Cheb (young), was added to his name Khalid and soon after he started to experiment with traditional Rai, mixing the music with western sounds and instruments. While his music became very popular it was latter banned by the government of Algeria, a situation which continued till 1983.

Because there was a campaign against Cheb Khalid by Islamists, he finally settled in France in 1990. Two years latter, he enjoyed great success with his song Didi and his album Khaled. And latter, that is in 1996, he decided to remove the word Cheb from his artistic name.

More success came that year when his new song Aicha came out. In Ukaz, Khaled is expected to perform songs from his latest Kinza album. "My dream is to break all the barriers in front of Arabic music since it can adapt to any international music," Khaled said. Through his music, Khaled seeks to "change the image which foreign media depicts [us] as only terrorists, we are a people of peace," Khaled noted.