Belfast Telegraph

Monday 25 May 2015

Elton John sparks outcry in Morocco

Elton John performs during the Mawazine Festival in Rabat, Morocco (AP)
Elton John performs during the Mawazine Festival in Rabat, Morocco (AP)

A performance by Elton John has sparked outrage among Morocco's anti-gay conservatives and tested the limits of the country's modernisation drive.

Islamists in the North African kingdom were furious at the gay pop star's visit, while the royal palace, government and his many fans backed his appearance on Wednesday night.

Authorities had beefed up security with thousands of police and plainclothes officers but no riots or violence was reported, said Rabat's governor, Hassan Amrani.

Mr Amrani said about 50,000 people attended the free concert in a wealthy neighbourhood of the capital.

Other entertainers performing at the May 21-29 festival include Sting, Mika and Carlos Santana and Arab music stars.

But in an apparent move to defuse possible tensions, Sir Elton was the only festival artist who was not scheduled to meet the local media.

The tension over the concert is part of a tussle between conservatives and modernisers in a nation that criminalises homosexuality but has long been famous for a swinging party scene.

Morocco has attracted gay celebrities such as designer Yves Saint Laurent and writer Paul Bowles, and recently saw the launch of its first gay magazine.

Across the Islamic world, strictly hidden, but sometimes tacitly tolerated traditions of homosexuality are surfacing fitfully - and Sir Elton's concert is the latest litmus test.

The public dispute between organisers for the Mawazine Festival that invited Sir Elton and the Justice and Development Party, or PJD, Morocco's largest authorised Islamist group, illustrates the growing rift between Western-leaning Moroccan authorities and the more conservative Muslim movements that are on the rise in the kingdom.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting?

Nightlife Galleries


Latest Entertainment News

Latest Music News

Latest Film & TV News

Latest Eating Out News


Your Horoscopes by Russell Grant


A friend will tell you about a job opening at their company. This lead will turn into a dead end. Don't set your hopes on this possibility. Instead of looking for another job, concentrate on fulfilling your duties. Tempers are running high. The last thing you want is to catch the attention of an irritable superior. If someone does criticise your work, remain silent. These remarks may be terribly unfair, but defending yourself will only make the situation worse. Breathe deep. This, too, shall pass.More