PARIS: A popular French Muslim rapper said Friday he is canceling sold-out October concerts at the Bataclan music hall in Paris, a target of the deadly 2015 terror attacks, due to pressure from far-right groups who claim he promotes a radical ideology and is desecrating a now-sacred site.
The statement by Medine came as far-right activists announced plans to try to keep concert-goers from entering the hall for his shows. The father of an attack victim joined them, stressing he was apolitical but wanted action. Patrick Jardin said later that canceling the concert avoided the risk of violence.
Since June, the right and far-right have waged a campaign to shut down Medine’s shows.
The singer said on his verified Facebook and Twitter accounts that the far-right activists’ goal was “to divide” the nation, and “they don’t hesitate to manipulate and reawaken the pain of the families of victims.”
He said he was canceling out of respect for victims’ families and out of concern for fans’ safety. Medine said he would perform, instead, in November at another major Paris music venue.
“It’s a decision of good sense,” said Jardin, the father of Nathalie Jardin, a Bataclan lighting engineer who was among 90 people killed on Nov. 13, 2015, when extremists invaded the music hall, one of several targets that night in which 130 people were killed.
“I think they avoided blood running again at the Bataclan,” he said, noting that “very determined” people were expected to show up ahead of the concerts.
Jardin said he wrote twice to Medine but never received a response from him or from the police chief.
A 2005 album by Medine, “Jihad,” with a picture of the singer with a saber, was posted on social media in June, melded to a poster of his upcoming Bataclan show, spurring rancor and leading some to believe he would sing about jihad, or holy war. Medine has noted the album’s subtitle is “The Biggest Combat is Against Yourself.”
In a 2015 album “Don’t Laik,” evoking French secularism in a play on words, he sings, “Crucify (secularists) like in Golgotha,” or Calvary, the site of Jesus’ crucifixion.
“We can’t allow victims to be assassinated a second time,” said activist Richard Roudier of the League du Midi.