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Sama’ Abdulhadi, Palestinian Musician Superstar

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RAMALLAH – Ms. Abdulhadi is a rising star og global electronic music. She is 30-year-old Palestinian DJ woman who play it besides the mosque. According to The New York Times, ate last December, came the mosque incident.

For her newest video project, Palestinian officials permitted Ms. Abdulhadi to film a performance at Nabi Musa, a remote cultural complex attached to a mosque in a desert area east of Jerusalem that some believe was built where Moses was buried. Several hours into the filming her set was stormed by religious Palestinians, furious at what they saw as an attack on Islam.

They distributed footage of the event, raising a media storm. Palestinian leaders condemned Ms. Abdulhadi and the police detained her for more than a week. She was released on bail but remains under investigation and cannot travel. And this pride of Palestine has become a villain to many amid a public debate about what it is to be Palestinian.

“I always thought that, you know, ‘I’m doing something for Palestine,’” Ms. Abdulhadi said in a recent interview in Ramallah.

“But apparently,” she added, “Palestine didn’t know.”

The furor exposed some of the rawest nerves in contemporary Palestinian society — increasing religiosity, resentment of the elites in Ramallah and an uncertainty about how best to express Palestinian identity at a time when Palestinian sovereignty feels particularly remote. Palestinians have limited autonomy in nearly 40 percent of the West Bank, but Israel rules the rest, controls access between most Palestinian-run towns and regularly conducts raids inside areas of nominal Palestinian control.

For some, Ms. Abdulhadi represents a kind of cultural resistance that helps assert and humanize Palestinian identity on the world stage.

“I didn’t go out to the world, playing in festivals and saying, ‘I’m a Palestinian D.J., and I want to free Palestine,’” Ms. Abdulhadi said. But over time, she found herself inadvertently becoming an informal cultural ambassador, “because everybody just wanted to know more about Palestine.”

But then, her dream to invite European to Palestine was drowning by her people. Her though about introducing Palestine to other world was stopped by Palestinian intellectual.

“People on the conservative side saw this as an example of the weakness and absence of the Palestinian Authority, and the impotence of the Palestinian condition,” said Sari Nusseibeh, a Palestinian intellectual and former head of Al-Quds University in Jerusalem. Though Palestinian society was once more accepting of diversity, it has grown more conservative in recent years as the struggle for statehood sputtered and some Palestinians turned to tradition and religion to sustain their identity, Prof. Nusseibeh said.


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