Music streaming giants Spotify and Apple Music took down the famed Palestinian song Ana Dammi Falastini (My Blood is Palestinian) and other songs by celebrated Palestinian singer Mohammed Assaf, following allegations of incitement against Israel.
The song, released in 2015, is widely recognized as a patriotic Palestinian song frequently played during events celebrating Palestinian culture. It regained virality during the social media movement against Israel’s occupation of Sheikh Jarrah in 2021.
In a statement to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed (The New Arab), Assaf expressed his shock at the removal of his signature song from the popular streaming platforms. He received an official email stating that the song was deleted due to its supposed “incitement against the Zionist enemy.”
The 33-year-old singer, hailing from the besieged Gaza Strip’s Khan Younis refugee camp, dismissed the claim, stating that the accusation further reinforces his commitment and loyalty to his homeland and the just cause of Palestine.
“This accusation increases my honour and belonging to my homeland, Palestine and my just cause…even if they delete this song, it is present in the memory and conscience of every Palestinian and every honourable free man who defends the right of the Palestinian people to obtain their freedom and independence,” Assaf declared.
This is not the first time Assaf, an ambassador of peace for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, had faced hostility for his music. In 2020, a member of the Israeli Likud party attempted to prohibit him from entering the occupied Palestinian territories, leading to the withdrawal of a special permit typically granted to Gazans for entry into the occupied West Bank
The removal of Ana Dammi Falastini has triggered outrage among Arabs and Palestinian activists on social media, who denounced the platforms for their perceived lack of integrity.
“Spotify aims to offer a wide range of music on our platform, but availability may vary over time and by country. The removal of some of Mohammed Assaf’s content was not determined by Spotify, but rather by the distributor. We anticipate its return in the near future and apologize for any inconvenience caused,” a spokesperson from Spotify explained to Egyptian Streets.
Spotify Arabia, the Arabic arm of the music streaming corporation, also declared their support for Assaf through Instagram on 17 May, promising users that the artist’s songs will return to Spotify soon.
Apple is yet to comment on the matter.