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Mer-Khamis. Assault on open thought Photo: Tzvika Tischler
Mer-Khamis. Assault on open thought Photo: Tzvika Tischler
 
 

Jenin music center torched

Directors believe fundamentalist elements set fire to center providing music lessons to some 80 kids from town and area

Merav Yudilovitch
Published: 03.18.09, 11:36 / Israel Culture

A Jenin music center operated by the Ramallah-based al-Kamanjati organization was set on fire Monday night. The center's directors said that they did not know who was behind the arson.

 

The center, which ordinarily provides various music lessons for some 80 children, will be forced to shut down due to the severe damage to the structure and the musical instruments.

 

Students arrive to the center from the Jenin refugee camp, the town of Jenin, and other neighboring communities.


Scorched musical instruments at the center

 

A statement to the press issued by the center defined the fire as "a crime against humanity and against the right of the Palestinian children and Palestinian society to culture and education.

 

"Such acts will not deter us from continuing with our work, because music touches the soul and mind and helps them evolve, instead of materialism and walls."

 

Juliano Mer-Khamis, the founder and director of the Freedom Theater in Jenin, told Ynet: "This is part of an anti-cultural wave of arsons, from which we at the Freedom Theater also suffered." Mer-Khamis was referring to a recent failed attempt to set the theater ablaze.

 

"This feels like an assault on everything that represents culture and open thought. We at the theater received threats about a month ago, threats that were now realized at al-Kamanjati. There is a lot of tension here," he stated.


Burnt down class at the center

 

According to Mer-Khamis, the pressure has been mounting lately due to the recent boom in cultural endeavors in the area. In about six months a first cinema house is scheduled to open in Jenin, sponsored by the German government.

 

Some fundamentalist elements feel threatened by this, he said. "The Palestinian Authority is making great efforts to catch the perpetrators. I assume that they have a religious affiliation, although the imam of Jenin stands behind us.

 

"But there are quite a few elements, within Fatah as well, who believe that music and theater are a distraction. We've reached a critical junction, which I saw coming but feared from, and we will have to deal with it," he concluded.

 

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