Unidentified persons throwing firebombs targeted a musical performance by a mixed-gender band in the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel on Saturday night, September 15. There were no injuries or damage from the attack and the show went on as planned, according to Al-Ittihad, the Communist daily newspaper.
Prior to the show, the town was gripped with tension after conservative Islamic groups had denounced the scheduled performance by the band Siraj, which includes both men and women. Islamic critics took issue with the performance as well as the mixed seating arrangements in the audience.
Police said they were searching for suspects who had thrown three firebombs at a municipal cultural hall while a packed house of some 500 people were inside watching the concert.
Hadash MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List), who was at the concert, told Al Ittihad that the show was “one of the most successful in the history of the city.” Jabareen commented that “The impressive number of those in the audience was the residents’ answer to attempts by certain parties in the city to have the show canceled… [While] the firebombs may not have disrupted the show, there’s no doubt that this was a serious incident and those responsible need to be brought to justice.”
Before the performance, the chairman of an association of Imans, Sheikh Mashour Fuaz, issued a statement on behalf of his organization: “We do not support events with mixed singing by male and female singers because it contravenes Sharia rules and Islamic culture and the customs on which society is built in a city like Umm al-Fahm.” Several local academics from Umm Al-Fahm issued their own statements condemning that of the Iman association and urging support for the event.