False alert! Bahrain denies granting Lebanese singer Majida El Roumi citizenship
Bahrain’s minister of state for information affairs has denied media reports claiming that her government has granted citizenship to Lebanese singing diva Majida Al Roumi after she condemned violence in a concert in the Kingdom on Sunday.
“What was published by [Bahraini daily] Al Ayyam citing [Saudi electronic paper] Elaph quoting me as an official spokesperson and on news about the granting of Miss Al Roumi Bahraini citizenship was fabricated news that Al Ayyam gave in to without investigating it,” Sameera Rajab wrote on Twitter.
Performing in the opening ceremony of the Bahrain Summer festival, Majida addressed the Bahraini people in an emotional speech, calling on Bahrainis to engage in dialogue, to which the audience responded with rapturous applause.
She repeatedly praised Bahrain’s leadership as wise, and condemned those who resorted to violence as “forces of darkness”. “Bahrain has a wise leadership that has defeated evil, a leadership that has fought with the weapon of love and art”.
Some news outlets, including a Bahraini newspaper, subsequently reported that Al Roumi had been granted Bahraini citizenship as a gesture of appreciation for her speech. The news spread fast on social media, prompting Sameera Rajab to issue a denial. Lebanon’s Al Nahar newspaper quoted Al Roumi as denying the claim, too.
“It seems that Roumi’s words about the forces of evil have really hurt these forces, who have resorted to a frenzy of insults and lies,” Sameera wrote on Twitter.
Members of Bahrain’s opposition strongly criticised her speech on twitter for allegedly ignoring the suffering of opposition protesters at the hands of the security forces. One blogger, Ahmad Habib, said that she “entered the country on a Lebanese passport but may leave with a Bahraini one, just like Asala Nasri”. Asala is a popular Syrian singer who had been granted Bahraini citizenship several years ago.
Pierre Abi Saab, a columnist in left wing newspaper Al Akhbar, which is supportive of Hezbollah and the Bashar Al Assad regime in Syria, also condemned the singer for being insensitive to the Bahraini opposition, arguing that she is a Lebanese icon and should not take sides.
Al Roumi started her career as an actress but eventually moved to singing, and has sung the lyrics of some of the most prominent Arab poets indluding celebrated Syrian Nizar Qabbani. She is also a UN Goodwill Ambassador.