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Row breaks out after British theater cancels event for Palestinian writers, citing security concerns

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Less than a week ago, the Home Theater in Manchester, a popular arts venue in the United Kingdom, announced on social media that it would “celebrate Palestinian voices” in an event called Voices of Resilience in April.

Two big names in cinema, Maxine Peake and Kingsley Ben-Adir, were among those scheduled to perform at the event. Among the works that were to be read aloud was the poetry of Atef Abu Saif, also currently Minister of Culture of the Palestinian Authority.

Today, although the social media post remains active, the BBC reports that the event will no longer take place, after the venue received a letter from the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester (JRCGM).

The JRCGM said the event should be canceled and specifically claimed that Abu Saif had previously defended Holocaust denial. Comma Press, which organized the event at the Home Theatre, called the allegations “baseless and defamatory” and said it was disappointed by the event’s cancellation.

Home Theater later released a statement saying it was a “politically neutral space, committed to welcoming the full range of artistic expression.”

It said: “Our concern for the home team, our audience and our artists, and their safety is paramount. Faced with the recent publicity around Voices of Resiliencewe have canceled this event.

The JRCGM told the BBC that it welcomed the decision, that there was no reason for home theater to have security issues, but believed that giving a platform to Abu Saif’s works ” would seriously harm community cohesion.”

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