Palestinian comedian Amer Zahr says Bahrain turned down permit for show

Gaza-themed The Truth was set to take place in Manama’s The Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel on April 19

US-Palestinian comedian Amer Zahr leads a pro-Palestine rally in Dearborn, Michigan. Photo: Joshua Longmore / The National
Powered by automated translation

Amer Zahr’s coming performance in Bahrain has been cancelled, according to the comedian.

The US-Palestinian entertainer posted a video on his social media, saying the permit for his stand-up show, The Truth, had been turned down.

The performance had received initial approval to sell tickets, Zahr said, but the permit was then turned down after it was advertised.

“Unfortunately the show is going to cancelled,” Zahr said, speaking with a map of 1948 Palestine in the background. “I’m really bummed out because we were working with so many great people on the ground to promote the show.

The Truth was initially set to take place at The Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, Residence and Spa in Manama on April 19. “Of course, if you bought tickets already, your tickets will be refunded,” Zahr said.

The comedian said he wasn’t exactly sure why the show’s permit was denied. “I guess the truth is a little difficult, I don’t know,” he said. “But as always, free Palestine.”

The National has contacted both Bahraini authorities and Zahr for further comment.

Zahr added that those interested in watching him perform could catch his shows in Kuwait and Dubai. The comedian is set to perform at Dubai Opera on April 17 as part of the Dubai Comedy Festival. He will also be performing at the American University in Kuwait on April 23. Zahr will also be performing at Amman’s Rainbow Theatre on May 10.

Zahr’s comedy often stems from his experiences growing up in the US as the son of Palestinian refugees. His performances often touch on political and societal issues, while exploring Palestinian culture, identity and experiences. He has performed in some prestigious venues in the US, including Carnegie Hall in New York, as well as the John F Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts in Washington.

In 2013, he established the 1001 Laughs Dearborn Comedy Festival, an annual event that spotlights Palestinian comedians. Besides his work in comedy, Zahr is also a writer and academic. He served as a national surrogate to the 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Zahr released a book in 2014 called Being Palestinian Makes Me Smile, which brings together writings from his online blog, The Civil Arab. He also released a documentary in 2017, titled We’re Not White.

Updated: April 08, 2024, 12:28 PM