The South Africa chapter of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign has vehemently denied allegations that it bullied international Malian Afro-pop musician Salif Keita into canceling a scheduled performance in Israel.
"We would like to clarify to the world that we did not intimidate the musician into canceling his performance in Israel as has been suggested in the media by the musician's manager," Professor Farid Esack, chairperson of BDS South Africa and former anti-apartheid activist, told the Anadolu Agency on Friday.
Keita, popularly known as the "golden voice of Africa," had been scheduled to perform this week at the Sacred Music Festival in the Israeli-occupied holy city of Jerusalem.
He cancelled his planned performance on Thursday, however, only hours before boarding his plane.
In a statement posted on his official Facebook page, Keita claimed the cancellation had been the result of "threats" made by BDS campaigners.
"The reason for the cancellation is not one which was made by Mr. Keita, but by his agents who were bombarded with hundreds of threats, blackmail attempts, intimidation, social media harassment and slander stating that Mr. Keita was to perform in Israel, 'not for peace, but for apartheid'," read the statement, signed by the Salif Keita Global Foundation INC.
It went on to accuse BDS of threatening to pursue an anti-Keita campaign and working to "ruin the reputation and career Keita has worked 40 years to achieve, not only professionally, but for human rights and albinism."
Keita -- a 64-year-old direct descendent of the founder of the Mali Empire, Sundiata Keita -- has released over 20 albums, including collaborations with other leading world musicians.
He is also an avid campaigner for the rights of albino people.
Esack, a Harvard university professor and former leader of South Africa's United Democratic Front, denied the accusations.
"We never intimidated Keita in any way and refute all these allegations," he told the AA.
He said he had written a letter to the famous musician on behalf of the BDS campaign explaining Israel's apartheid policies, which include racism towards Palestinians and xenophobia towards African migrants.
"In the letter we explained to him why he should not perform in Israel and should join a cultural boycott against Israel," said Esack. "There was no intimidation."
BDS is a global campaign that uses economic, political, cultural and academic pressure on Israel in hopes of ending the latter's decades-old occupation and colonization of Palestine.
"BDS is a peaceful movement which stands for the rights of the oppressed and does not in any way intimidate artists into joining the cultural boycott of Israel," Esack insisted.
AAGüncelleme Tarihi: 24 Ağustos 2013, 10:00