Palestinian DJ Sama’ Abdulhadi has been released from jail following an arrest by Palestinian authorities on Dec. 27.
Abdulhadi was held in a Jericho jail for eight days after being detained during a private event for the electronic music platform Beatport at the Maqam Nabi Musa in the West Bank, about 30 minutes east of Jerusalem.
The location is a holy site commemorated as the tomb of the prophet Moses and is currently used both as a place of worship and a tourist attraction that regularly hosts various music events. Home to structures dating back to 1269 , the Ministry of Tourism officially opened the site to tourists in 2019. Abdulhadi’s event was the first electronic music performance to take place at Maqam Nabi Musa.
The arrest occurred while Abdulhadi was pre-recording a set to be streamed as part of her four-part performance series with Beatport. Attended by a group of 30 friends and family and taking place in the courtyard of a hostel on the Nabi Mussa property, the event had received written approval from the General Director of the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
However, the recording was ended during the final minutes of the set by, according to a press release from Beatport, “a group who burst into the venue and told guests to leave claiming it wasn’t right for the recording to be taking place in a religious site.”
According to CNN, this crowd was responding to “reports of partygoers drinking and taking drugs at the holy site, [which] prompted hundreds of people to descend on the party to break it up. Many were also angry with the PA for allowing it to go ahead.” (A representative for Abdulhadi tells Billboard that the group that initially descended on the venue was made up of 20 people, with the larger crowd of hundreds arriving the following day.)
Abdulhadi was held for questioning and then detained. On Sunday, she was released on bail by a Palestinian Authority court order on the conditions of a cash bond of 500 Jordanian Dinar (approximately $705) and restrictions against traveling outside of Palestine. Abdulhadi is currently with her family in her hometown of Ramallah.
Her father, Saad Abdulhadi, told CNN that his daughter is being unfairly targeted for the incident, which led to vandalism at the site. “It seems the Palestinian Authority didn’t know how to control the anger of the street,” he said, “so they used Sama as a scapegoat for something the street saw as a mistake.” Various Palestinian leaders have condemned the performance, with the deputy minister of religious affairs Hussam Abu-Alrub calling it “unacceptable and outside all of our religious principles” during an interview with Palestinine’s NAS Radio.
The popular techno artist is, according to Beatport, “subject to further investigation on the charges of desecrating a holy site and religious symbols and violating COVID-19 emergency measures. Abdulhadi faces up to two years of imprisonment if indicted. She has not been indicted yet and is awaiting the Attorney Generals decision whether the charges will be pursued or not, following the final results of the investigation.”
Abdulhadi gained international recognition after a standout 2018 Boiler Room set. A now-closed petition calling for her release received over 100,000 signatures and got support from Roger Waters, a longstanding advocate for Palestine.
“I am safe and well and would like to thank everybody who has spoken out in support of my situation and called for my immediate release,” Abdulhadi is quoted in the press release. “I am overwhelmed by the support from my fellow musicians, artists, activists and the entire music community. I want to thank anybody and everybody who has made me feel so supported. At this moment, I just want to spend time with my family.”