By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief Published: April 27, 2008, 15:41
Manama: A planned concert by Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe has waded into controversy after Islamists have called for its cancellation despite strong assurances from organisers that the often scantily clad singer would be wearing “decent” clothes.
Haifa is due to give her first concert in Bahrain, alongside Lebanese singer Fadel Shaker, on April 30 to mark Labour Day.
New York-based event management company Concerto International and its Middle East office in Beirut, the organizers of the concert, have repeatedly said that it would be only for families and would be performed within a family atmosphere that respects local and Gulf traditions.
However, on Friday mosque imams called upon the information ministry to cancel the show and to respect the feelings of the people.
“We do not want any performance by singers showing off their flesh in the name of art. We know that there is a section of our society that likes such shows, but most of the people resent them,” Fareed Abdul Hadi, the imam of Al Adliya mosque said.
“We really miss the days of Um Kalthoom and the other singers who were decent in their looks,” he said, referring to the diva of the Arabs who wore a head scarf.
Independent Salafi MP Jassem Al Saeedi said the information ministry should ban the singer “whose own daughter has disowned her.”
“Egypt, Syria and Kuwait have banned her, and we urge the information ministry to do the same,” he said.
Al Asala, the second largest bloc in the parliament, issued a statement against the concert.
However, Concerto International on Sunday insisted that the concert where hundreds of people from Bahrain and the Gulf are expected would be only for families and that Haifa would abide by family traditions and would be decently clothed.
“She will also visit a society that looks after handicapped children and will offer them financial and moral support as part of her charity work,” Concerto International said.
The ban on Haifa performing in some countries is the result of competition between music companies, according to Concerto International.
Haifa was Miss South Lebanon before she started her singing career. In 2006, she featured on People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People list.