By Eddahmani Abdeselam
By Eddahmani Abdeselam
Rabat – A video posted on social media August 25 shows Tunisian actress Sana El Zein insulting a Moroccan band at the Festival of Spiritualities (Al’rouhaniyat Festival) in Tunis, after they stopped their performance because of loud voices emanating from outside the venue.
El Zein, the wife of actor and festival director Hishem Rostom, attacked the band, accusing them of being late, unprofessional, and not respectable.
“I respect only those who respect my god,” she said, prompting the public to protest and
demand that she respect the Moroccan guests.
After the incident, the band expressed their shock at what they saw was highly inappropriate treatment of festival guests.
“I remember years ago when the artist Hishem Rostom came to Morocco as a well-known
Tunisian star, [and] the size of the celebration and the unprecedented welcome he received from Moroccans and the Moroccan media. Is this how the Moroccan people deserve to be insulted, by insulting their guests?” Abdullah Al Mansur, the vocalist of the band, called Ibn Arabi, told HuffPost Arabi.
“We have not seen throughout our singing career a festival that insults its guests at the sight and hearing of those present,” he added. “The wife of the director of the festival was angry with us only because we kindly asked to work in more professional conditions that were in line with the nature of our spiritual art.”
Al Mansur explained that the band members have not yet received payment from the director of the festival. If not paid, he said, they will resort to legal methods and prosecute the festival administration through the Moroccan embassy in Tunis.
In response to El Zein’s actions at the festival, Rostom, said on the radio show Tunisian Mosaic that what his wife did was “the right decision,” and that if he had been present then he would have done the same.
He he apologized to the band for the outside noise, but refused to apologize for what his wife did, taking on consideration that she is the technical director of the festival and further suggested that there is was a deliberate intention of some parties, which he did not name, to destroy the reputation of the festival.
The video aroused great controversy between Moroccan and Tunisian Facebookers. In a wave of indignation, many Tunisians made apologies on Ibn Arabi’s Facebook page, deriding the behavior of El Zein and Rostom.
Journalists have also written about the incident, questioning El Zein’s authority to impose her views on the festival.
One after another
El Zein’s interruption of Ibn Arabi was not the first controversy the festival has faced. Haneen Bougura, the artistic coordinator of the Sufi music Festival of Spiritualties had previously accused Rostom, in a statement to Haf Arab Post, of stealing the idea for his festival from theirs, taking it from southern Tunisia to the capital.
Bougara explained that when the festival was in its initial stages in 2016 in southern Tunisia, Rostom asked the festival organizers to join the team in its first edition and was hired as a technical director. However, Bougara claimed, the actor soon broke his promises to the organizers and neglected his responsibilities.
She said that the second edition of the festival will be held in Nafta in November 2017
inviting all Al’mounchidin (spiritual singers) of Tunisia and the Arab world to this coming