Meeting with Bashar Murad: Palestinian singer blurs gender boundaries

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"I constantly wonder if I have exceeded the limits of my music."

Whether playing in a wedding dress or singing About LGBT issues, Palestinian musician Bashar Murad is used to taking risks.

As an Arab living in Jerusalem, he claims that he constantly challenges many conservative elements of his society.

"I try to be respectful to people - but I also try not to do it."

He cites, for example, his song Everyone's Getting Married, which describes the traditional conception of marriage of his society.

We always ask, 'When are you going to get married?' and we created this concept that if you are not married before the age of 30 years, it means that there is something wrong with you. "

So, he pulled out a wedding dress.

"In the video, I play the role of the priest, the waiter, the husband and then the bride. I like playing with gender roles. "

The dress was worn during his concerts in various Palestinian places, which he says he had a lot of support.

"There have been negative comments here and there," he says. "But people tend to make these assumptions because few people have tried to take the risks I have."

Bashar says his songs about gender equality, homosexual activism and Arab life in Israeli society challenge different types of people. .

"It tends to anger people who do not believe in an absolute right for Palestinians as well as for members of my own society who are satisfied with the status quo.

"I understand it's a work in progress to open minded people to new ideas. "

Recently, Israel received a lot of attention when it organized the Eurovision Song Contest.

The organizers will always say that the contest is strictly non-political, which Bashar finds "a little ridiculous".

"It was already political because it was happening in Tel Aviv."

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Israeli human rights activists staged protest against 2019's Eurovision Song Contest

Detractors of Israeli policy towards Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem called for boycotting the event.

"The whole Eurovision contest in Tel Aviv went on without any mention of what was going on. Palestinians. "

Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank say they are suffering because of Israeli actions and restrictions. Israel says it only acts to protect itself from Palestinian violence.

Shortly after the end of the fight, Bashar released a duet with the Icelandic candidate Hatari, who drew attention for deploying "Palestine" scarves during the show.

"I was proud of guys," he says. "They were the only ones who actually made a statement."

For many people, the use of the name "Palestine" is controversial because some see it not only as pro-Palestinian, but also as an anti-Israeli expression.

At the time, the EBU (which produces Eurovision) announced that it would investigate the actions of the band.

"It was an attack on no one," says Bashar. "It was a demonstration of solidarity with the Palestinians. About 200 million people watched the final and I'm sure many of them had no idea what was going on here. "

He claims that people have sent him messages since Eurovision said the incident has raised awareness of the broader political situation.

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Image caption

Hatari was one of the most prominent numbers at this year's Eurovision Song Contest.

The Hatari were notable at Eurovision because of their leather outfits and the BDSM scene.

Bashar recently played with them on Icelandic television, getting a mix of positive and "hateful" comments from Palestinians.

"Some people told me that I was disrespectful and that if Hatari came to Palestine with his BDSM outfits, they would probably be killed."

However, if he claims that some of the protesters are noisy, the Palestinian music scene as a whole could actually surprise many people.

"There is a big electronic scene, trap and techno here," he says. "We have just had the first Palestinian boiler room live from Ramallah. There are many things that people do not know.

"The best way is to come to Palestine and see for yourself. "

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This article appeared first on https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-48923015