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--- Freddie Mercury Birthday Bash on Zanzibar Cancelled ! ---

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  • --- Freddie Mercury Birthday Bash on Zanzibar Cancelled ! ---

    by Issa Maalim Thu Aug 31, 10:26 AM ET

    ZANZIBAR, Tanzania (AFP) - Organizers of a 60th gala birthday party for the late Zanzibar-born rock star Freddy Mercury, have cancelled the weekend event after outraged Muslims threatened to disrupt it.

    Faced with fierce opposition from Islamists, who complained the flamboyant Queen lead singer's lifestyle was offensive to many on the overwhelmingly Muslim archipelago, organizers said they had no choice but to call it off.

    "We have decided to cancel the party after misleading and erroneous information was spread about it," said organizer Simai Mohamed Saidi, who runs a Freddie Mercury theme restaurant in the capital.

    "I urge Muslim groups in the future to seek correct information from us instead of relying on rumors," he said in an open letter, adding the event was intended to be celebration to honor Mercury, who died of AIDS in 1991.

    Saidi also lamented that the cancellation would hurt his intention to use the party to raise money for HIV/AIDS victims on Zanzibar.

    Conservative Zanzibari Islamists last week demanded that authorities ban the party and then vowed to stage mass demonstrations if it went ahead, saying it would tarnish the islands' reputation and culture and promote homosexuality.

    "We were ready to join forces against the party because we had information that a number of gays from abroad had come to take part," said Sheikh Azzan Hamdani of the association for Islamic Mobilization and Propagation (UAMSHO).

    "We had also written letters to the tourist commission and the owner of the Mercury restaurant, demanding that they stop the party," he told AFP.

    The authorities, who have long tip-toed between secular constitutional ideals, the demands of a booming tourist industry and the wishes of conservative Muslims, never formally responded to Islamists.

    But Zanzibar's information ministry this week ordered local state-run media not to give the event any coverage.

    Few on Zanzibar are aware of Queen or Freddie Mercury, who was born Farrokh Bulsara on the main island of Unguja to Persian parents employed by the British colonial administration on September 5, 1946.

    But the appearance of posters advertising the beach party to celebrate what would have been his 60th birthday in recent weeks prompted the Islamist complaints.

    Although he was educated in India and moved with his family to Britain in 1964, Mercury, who died in 1991, remains perhaps Zanzibar's most famous son to many westerners and rock music fans.

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    --- Happy Birthday Freddie, Anyway !!!


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