Last updated: 15 October, 2012

Arab performers boycott Austrian oriental arts festival

Several Arab artists have announced they will boycott an Austrian oriental arts festival over its sponsorship by the Israeli embassy in Vienna, organisers said Monday.

Syrian performer Lena Chamamyan and the Malikah & Friends ensemble from Lebanon cancelled their appearance at the festival, Salam.Orient, running from October 16 to November 10 in Vienna and the southern city of Graz, the organisers said in a statement.

This followed a boycott call by a group called the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), to protest the festival’s official sponsorship by the Israeli embassy in Austria, whose logo appears on the programme.

The organisers, however, insisted on Monday that the embassy only endorsed a concert by an Israel-based music group from Tajikistan.

“For Salam.Orient, this boycott is incomprehensible, precisely because of our years of dedication to the Arab perspective,” the statement by Salam.Orient said.

The festival, which was set up in 2002 in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States, regularly hosts acts from around the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean, including Israel.

A total 26 events, including dance performances, poetry, concerts, lectures and workshops, will be given over the next month.