Iconic pop band, UB40, has joined more than 37,000 others in backing the rapper and Palestine solidarity campaigner Kareem Dennis, better known by his stage name Lowkey, against the attempt by a pro-Israel lobby group to have the artist removed from Spotify.
"We Believe in Israel", a British pro-Israel lobby group, has been leading a campaign against the rapper. It claims that the move is part of its efforts to remove "dozens of instances of problematic material, including Lowkey's [2010 song], 'Long Live Palestine – Part 2'.
The song that the pro-Israel group is campaigning to ban features Palestinian hip-hop group, DAM, British-Palestinian artiste, Shadia Mansour, Iraqi-Canadian rapper, Narcy, among others.
Lowkey has received support from numerous artists, who have put their names to an open letter defending him, denouncing the "smear" campaign to silence him. "We artists, musicians and other public figures and organisations are deeply concerned by the coordinated campaign against rapper and campaigner Lowkey," says the letter.
"Lowkey has become the target of a coordinated smear campaign to demonize, defame and deplatform him," the letter continues, noting how last month the artist was prevented from appearing at the National Union of Students in Liverpool.
"The campaign against Lowkey is designed to silence Palestinians and their supporters," the letter adds. "Anti-Palestinian censorship is now reaching into the artistic realm," it warns. "Today Lowkey; tomorrow, who is next?"
Lowkey announced the backing of UB40 in a tweet yesterday. "Thank you so much to these people for joining the 35,000+ who have signed our open letter to Spotify opposing the Israel lobby campaign to remove my music," said the rapper in a post containing a photo of the band.
Thank you so much to these people for joining the 35,000+ who have signed our open letter to Spotify opposing the Israel lobby campaign to remove my music. pic.twitter.com/KbtVjjMaXG
— Lowkey (@Lowkey0nline) April 5, 2022
The attempt to de-platform Lowkey is part of a growing phenomenon which social commentators refer to as cancel culture. With its threat to free speech, the UK Tory government is seeking to introduce new legislation to combat its rise.
Critics, overall, argue that the government should not be legislating the boundaries of free speech. But their biggest worry is the apparent hypocrisy. It is thought that the Tory government is seeking to target left-wing activists with the new legislation, and critics point out that it is the right, and in particular pro-Israel groups, who are most guilty of no-platforming and for the ugly rise of cancel culture.