Stadium-filling British musical outfit Coldplay announced their support for The White Helmets – also known as the Syrian Civil Defense – on Wednesday.
What exactly their “support” entails is unclear from the tweet, but Coldplay is probably impressed by the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated White Helmets’ search and rescue missions in rebel-controlled Syria, also the subject of a Netflix documentary released in December.
So where do other celebrities stand on The White Helmets? They seem to have lots of fans in Hollywood. The New York Times reports that Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Justin Timberlake, Aziz Ansari and others signed a petition to award The White Helmets a Nobel Peace Prize in September.
This isn’t surprising, but beyond The White Helmets and into the Syrian Civil War as a whole, there are quite a few celebrities in Syria and its neighboring Arab countries with interesting views on the harrowing conflict. Not all of them are pro-White Helmets –or rather the rebels –however: Arab celebrities are more divided politically than their Western counterparts.
Sure, George Clooney may be sympathetic to the rebel cause given his support for The White Helmets, but Lebanese pop star Fadl Shaker took his support for the rebels to a whole ‘nother level. In 2012, Shaker appeared at an anti-Assad rally in Lebanon organized by a group of Salafists – an ultra-conservative sect of Islam. Shaker eventually joined this militant group headed by the sheikh Ahmed al-Assir, which has fought the Lebanese government. But he left in 2015, and is now resuming a normal life, and possibly a musical comeback.
The famed Syrian singer differs from Shaker, and has praised Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Wassouf even presented a song written for the president, and visited the presidential palace in 2012.
The politically-minded Lebanese singer and oud player Marcel Khalife has spoken about Syria, but not explicitly so. In 2011 at the start of the revolution and subsequent civil war, he said “I support the Syrian people and am not with any Arab regime,” according to Al Arabiya.
The Lebanese singer Julia Boutros is known for her pro-Hezbollah opinions, and has a song attributed to her on YouTube praising the Syrian army – who Hezbollah is allied with in the country.
This week, The White Helmets were also in the news due to a controversial article by Max Blumenthal linking them to the US government, which created quite a bit of buzz on Twitter.
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