Visa Issues Quash Libyan Heavenly States Shows

Hoping to be the first Western group to play in Libya since Muammar Gaddafi came to power 35 years ago, the Heavenly States could not perform because of an administrative glitch, government officials

Hoping to be the first Western group to play in Libya since Muammar Gaddafi came to power 35 years ago, the Heavenly States could not perform because of an administrative glitch, government officials said yesterday (Feb. 5).

The Oakland, Calif.-based group had arrived in Libya on Feb. 1 to play three concerts, including one in the Roman ruins of Leptis Magna.

Government officials said there had been a problem with the group's visa. "They came with a tourist visa," an official said by way of explaining the failure to grant them permission to play. The four-member band was expected to leave Tripoli late yesterday but hoped to return within three months.

Gaddafi's ties with West have improved in the past year, and the United States has lifted most of its sanctions against the North African state, including a ban on U.S. citizens traveling to Libya.

But while Libya is fast re-opening up to the West after decades of isolation, some aspects of Western culture are still criticized in the state-run media.

"No American [rock[ band has performed in Libya. There is a certain myth in America about Libya," said lead singer Ted Nesseth. "Part of the reason to come here was to dispel the rumors. I can say it's safer to be here than in Oakland."


COPYRIGHT: (c) Reuters 2004. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.