BEIRUT: Zeid Hamdan, the frontman of band Zeid and the Wings, was arrested Wednesday for defamation of the president over his song “General Suleiman.”
The musician was arrested at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Baabda’s Justice Palace, according to a statement from his lawyer.
According to reports he was released Wednesday night.
Hamdan announced his arrest via his Facebook page Wednesday.
“They are prosecuting me for defammation [sic] of President Suleiman. I dont know, until when I am staying in prison. Please mobilize!” he wrote.
Hamdan’s arrest was ordered following a request from Interior Minister Marwan Charbel, according to judicial sources, after Lebanon’s General Security viewed the video of the song, created in 2010, and determined that it caused offense to the president.
Hamdan, a Lebanese music scene veteran who founded electro-pop band Soap Kills in 1997 wrote “General Suleiman” in 2008. In the lyrics of the song, inspired by Sleiman’s election to the presidency, Hamdan urges the president to rid the country of militias, warlords and corruption.
The arrest appears to hinge around the final line of the song in which Hamdan sings “Go home, General Suleiman.”
A statement from Hamdan’s lawyer, Nizar Saghyie Wednesday criticized the action, which it said could lead to a sentence of up to two years in prison for Hamdan.
“This arrest not only hinders the artistic freedom and freedom of expression in Lebanon,” the statement said. “It also reveals the level of contempt of the general authorities for personal freedom.”
It went on to urge the public ‘to take a stand and defend general freedoms in Lebanon.”
Marc Codsi, a musician and member of Zeid and the Wings, expressed his shock at the arrest Wednesday evening.
“I believed that we live in a country where freedom of speech is respected,” he said. “All he did in the song is praise the president. The government should be respecting this freedom.”
News of the arrest sparked a torrent of reaction on Facebook and Twitter. A Facebook page “Free Zeid Hamdan from Jail” has nearly 900 likes by early Wednesday evening, and a Twitter hashtag #FreeZeid was in widespread use.
Hamdan’s detention follows similar arrests last year when four individuals were held for defamation of Sleiman after they posted critical comments on Facebook.
Zeid Hamdan released, trial date set
BEIRUT: Musician Zeid Hamdan, arrested Wednesday for defamation of the president over his song “General Suleiman” was released Wednesday night.
Hamdan, the singer from the band Zeid and the Wings, was held Wednesday at Baabda Palace in Beirut over the band's song, which contains the line “Go home Suleiman,” on a request from General Security after they viewed its 2010 video.
A trial date has been set, judicial sources told The Daily Star.