Saad Lamjarred's Baghdad concert cancelled after protesters storm venue

Controversial Moroccan singer was due to play in Sinbad Land leisure park

Caption: Saad Lamjarred performs at the 2016 Mawazine Festival in Rabat, Morocco.

Courtesy: Wahid Tajani
 *** Local Caption ***  Blog - Mawazine 2016_ Saad Lamjarred.jpg
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Saad Lamjarred's Baghdad concert was cancelled after protesters attempted to storm the venue prior to the performance.

The Moroccan pop star was set to play at the leisure park Sinbad Land on Thursday, when hundreds of protesters gathered at the venue holding banners decrying the event, saying it clashed with religious ceremonies and citing the several rape allegations against the controversial singer.

After security guards managed to prevent some protesters from entering the venue, Sinbad Land officially cancelled the show.

In a statement posted on its Instagram channel on Saturday, Sinbad Land said the decision was made out of safety concerns.

"The reason for the sacrifice of all the money and efforts spent (on the show) was to protect everyone and prevent the shedding of blood of any Iraqi," read the statement.

"We are not sorry for our financial sacrifice, but we will demand the most severe penalties against those who incited and led this attack which recalls a tragic era of years past.

“We trust the Iraqi judiciary who has always been fair to everyone.”

While not addressing the protests, Lamjarred thanked concert organisers and pledged to return to Iraq.

“I would like to thank the entire Iraqi team for their efforts during the period of preparations for the concert and building the theatre in particular,” he said on Instagram.

“I will see you soon.”

Moroccan-Iraqi singer Shatha Hassoun also took to her social media channels in support of Lamjarred, describing the protests as not representative of Iraqi "generosity and reception".

"He is loved by all Iraqis, especially since everyone is aware of the nature of Lamjarred, which has always been characterised by kindness and that he is a real artist,” she said, alongside a picture with the singer.

This is not the first time a Lamjarred concert was cancelled because of his legal troubles.

In 2020, a planned show in Cairo was reportedly cancelled after a social media outcry during which the hashtag #CancelCairoShow trended regionally.

A similar social media campaign was launched last month in the lead-up to the Baghdad concert.

A fallen star

The cancellations underscore the controversy surrounding Lamjarred, who remains popular with more than 13 million followers on Instagram and a string of hits including 2015’s Lm3allem (The Boss), which racked up more than one billion views on YouTube.

That sky-rocketing momentum appears to have been permanently curtailed after the singer faced at least three accusations of rape.

In 2018, French prosecutors arrested Lamjarred after a woman filed a complaint, stating she was assaulted by the singer in a nightclub on the French Riviera.

Lamjarred was detained in police custody before being released pending further investigation.

At the time of the arrest, the singer was already on bail after being charged with the aggravated rape and assault of a French woman in a hotel in Paris, in October 2016.

According to Le Parisien, the Paris Court of Cassation annulled the case in 2020, citing the initial charge "does not, in form, meet the essential conditions for its legal existence".

Lamjarred was also accused of raping a woman in New York in 2010. He fled the US after posting bail and, despite being indicted on 21 counts, including rape and harassment, the case was dismissed after the accuser withdrew her complaint.

Lamjarred has denied all the charges against him.

He broke his silence regarding the 2010 case during a press conference in 2016, hours before his show at Morocco's Mawazine festival.

“This is an old story and the reason behind this is the fact I have been blessed with fame,” he said. “A lot of big stars have faced similar situations. These accusations that have been made towards me are false.”

Lamjarred's next concert is on Friday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, alongside Lebanese singer Elissa.

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Updated: June 12, 2022, 11:08 AM