Is this the beginning of the era of silencing free speech? At the Christmas Market celebrations in the Palestinian village of Kfar Yasif on Saturday, Israeli police officers attempted to prevent a performance by the renowned Arab rapper Tamer Nafar, claiming that he was “singing inciting songs against the police and against the state.”
The police did not bring any restraining order which prevents the rapper from singing. The police approached the head of the council and the producer of the event demanding to take Nafar off the stage and tried to cancel the permit.
Attorney Shadi Shaviri, head of the local council, rejected the policemen’s demand. An argument ensued and in the end he ordered the concert to continue and told the thousands of people who came, “we will sing what we want here, we don’t need to be told what to sing,” and indeed Tamer Nafar came on stage followed by the singer Zohair Francis.
In response, the Mossawa Center said, “Israel is turning into a dictatorship that suppresses freedom of expression. Even before Ben-Gvir took office, police forces prevented demonstrations, and tried without authority to stop performances. What they are allowed to do in Kfar Yasif they would not dare to do in Ariel or Netanya. The fight for freedom of expression will escalate, and cultural and human rights organizations will find themselves under attack and will have to fight it off. As in any dictatorship, it will start with the weakened groups, but the oppression will also reach the media and the groups that stand aside and remain silent.”