Monday, November 21, 2011

No Superrappin for U.S. Hip-Hop Envoys in Lahore

So last week, the Chicago-based FEW Collective was briefly detained in Pakistan after one of the performers was alleged to have taken "sensitive photographs in the garrison city of Rawalpindi." The US Embassy in Islamabad stresses that "The performer was not aware of restrictions placed on photography in or near the cantonment, and had no intention of taking photographs of sensitive Pakistani government or military installations."

As part of U.S. Embassy's cultural exchange programs,
F.E.W. Collective came to Pakistan to share their dancing
and singing talents with the world.
Photo from US Embassy Islamabad/Flickr
That was last week. Over the weekend the group traveled to Lahore for more performances. USCGLahore tweeted on Nov 19: "Hip Hop group FEW Collective is now in Lahore playing at universities & jamming with students!"

Today, the group was barred from performing at a state-run hall in Lahore for "security reasons." Reports citing the local arts council director, Zulfikar Ali indicate that the scheduled performance had to be cancelled after "the local Al-Hamra Arts Council refused permission over its alleged failure to provide a no objection certificate (NOC) from the provincial home office."

MSN India reports that Lahore Arts Council's executive director Muhammad Ali Baloch says that "the band was not allowed to perform as it failed to provide a "no-objection certificate" issued by the Home Department of Punjab province."
"We had requested the US Consulate in Lahore to provide the NOC but it didn''t give us the same," Baloch told reporters. He said the NOC was a "mandatory legal requirement" for holding such a concert.

This was apparently contradicted by the US Consulate General spokesman Leslie Goodman who  told journalists that "all necessary documents had been provided to the Lahore Arts Council but its management did not allow the band to go ahead with its concert."

US ConGen Lahore posted the following message on its Facebook page:
Sorry fans, due to circumstances beyond our control, the venue decided it could not host the American hip hop performance tonight.  We regret the inconvenience the cancellation has caused to you.

The group's next stop is Karachi.

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