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Female performers excluded from Jerusalem music festival

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — Three female singers were asked not to perform at a music festival in the haredi Orthodox-dominated Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Liat Zion, the only female member of The Diwan Project musical ensemble, left the stage after performing for a half hour after being asked politely to do so by a production manager on the opening night of the four-day Sounds of the Old City music festival, which ended March 21.

Two religious men had threatened the production manager if Zion continued to remain on stage, Ynet reported.

Zion told The Jerusalem Post that she chose to leave the stage and understood that her performance in a haredi section of the Jewish Quarter made some of the residents and audience members uncomfortable.

A second Jewish group with 15 members was asked prior to the event not to include its two female members in their performance. The group, Marsh Dondurma, refused to perform without the entire group and eventually went on stage as scheduled.

Women sang and performed in other music festival locations throughout the city.

The festival features Jewish, Armenian and traditional Arab music groups, as well as a mixed religious-secular audience. 

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in a message posted on Facebook condemned the exclusion of women from the festival.

“The decision was not up to me and not acceptable to me and I will make sure that it does not happen again," Barkat wrote. "The exclusion of women in any form is not acceptable to me and I will continue to work against it.”

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