The head of the Baalbek Festival Committee, Fadia Hage apologized on Sunday for what she termed a mistake in one of the texts featured on opening night, reported The Daily Star.
The Lebanese daily newspaper stated that the text, which referred to Israel, had angered local MPs because it contained a reference to Israel.
“What happened during the opening concert by Fadia Hage in the Song of Solomon,” part of a 2 piece concert called ‘Anashid’ or Chants was the result of an unintentional mistake,” May Arida explained.
The text in question is based on the Old Testament’s Song of Solomon, and includes the following passage:
“Behold, it is the litter of Solomon! About it are 60 mighty men of the mighty men of Israel, all girt with swords and experts in war, each with his sword at his thigh, against alarms by night. King Solomon made himself a palanquin from the wood of Lebanon.”
Several Baalbek MPs from the region of Hirmel protested by saying that the songs in this concert held at a Hizbullah center should not refer to Israel and asked for Arida’s resignation.
Furthermore, the controversial passage was cut from Saturday’s presentation by the same ensemble, said The Daily Star.
The members of parliament, some of whom have watched the performance, asked that the Baalbek Festival Committee be removed and be replaced by a new one that would take into consideration the offerings of the city and its artists,” the group said during a Saturday news conference in Hirmel.
Defense Minister Ghazi Zeaiter, and MPs Marwan Fares, who represents the Syrian National Social Party, Assem Qanso, from the Arab Baath Socialist Party and Ibrahim Bayan, who represents Hizbullah in parliament had all singed the petition to remove the current festival’s committee.
At the press conference, the aforementioned asked “the people responsible for this (artistic) work be prosecuted.”
“The committee allowed the performance of a poem that dates back thousands of years. Aside from the harm the poem generates, it also undermines the national sacrifices offered by this region,” the group said.
The officials accused the committee of presenting a “suspicious artistic work based on the Song of Solomon that opposed the goal the organization has set for itself.”
It went on to criticize the artistic value of the performance, saying that it was “below the artistic standards and skill of Lebanon.”
Bayan said he would meet President Emile Lahoud to discuss the matter and said that Arida had expressed her readiness to resign, reported the Lebanese daily.
He added that Arida told him that she could not bear responsibility for the incident because the artists did not show her the text prior to the performance.
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )