John Legend speaks on Palestinian rights: 'It's a baseline human position'

'Clearly it's wrong what is happening to the Palestinians,' says the multi-award-winning singer

US singer-songwriter John Legend arrives for the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards on January 26, 2020, in Los Angeles.  / AFP / VALERIE MACON
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Singer John Legend has not been quiet about his support of the Palestinian people. And this week, he once again advocated for their human rights, saying: "Clearly it's wrong what is happening to the Palestinians, it's so obvious. Anyone who doesn't believe that is the case is being wilfully blind, I believe."

The singer, 40, was taking part in a live podcast recording with online news platform The Intercept, which was released on Friday, February 14. The podcast's topic was "How to Fix the Criminal (In)Justice System", with Patrisse Cullors, the artist and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, also participating.

There there should not be a group of people being held in open-air prisons and denied freedom of movement because of their nationality or religion

"John, you're one of the few celebrities – actual A-listers ... who has linked the fight for human rights, civil liberties, the fight against detention [and] mass incarceration here at home [in the US] to what's been going on in the occupied Palestinian territories," host Mehdi Hasan asked him. "How did you come to that position?"

"I just feel like that's a baseline human position," Legend replied. "There should not be a whole group of people in a county, because of their nationality or religion, being held in open-air prisons, denied freedom of movement and having their land annexed by settlers ... that's just a human position. [But] I'm not an expert in this area."

"You are one of the few very, very famous people to have spoken out about it," Hasan interjected. To which the singer replied: "I think, as someone who is observing what's going on, and saying 'This is right,' or 'This is wrong', clearly it's wrong what is happening to the Palestinians, it's so obvious."

This is not the first time the singer has spoken out in support of Palestinian people. Almost one year ago, the All of Me singer appeared on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, a politics and current affairs panel show. During the taping, Legend took a stand for the people of Palestine.

"As progressives, we should also speak up for human rights for Palestinians, and for too long, I think, it has been out of bounds for progressives to speak up for the rights of Palestinians," said the father-of-two.

The Grammy, Tony, Emmy and Oscar winner added: “It is a progressive point of view to speak up for the rights of Palestinians.”

During a speech he delivered to graduates at the University of Pennsylvania, the Ordinary People star called upon students to humanise those caught up in conflict.

"[Love] means we see a young Palestinian kid not as a future security threat or demographic challenge, but as a future father, mother and lover," he said. "If you're committed to loving in public, it requires you opening your eyes to injustice, to see the world through the eyes of another."


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