In a TV interview, Kuwaiti singer Shams Bandar said that she supported sex education in the Arab world and that she had gay friends, criticizing those who convey one message to the cameras and another behind closed doors. Lying, she said, "is characteristic of the Arab peoples" because "the concept of shame and morality forces us to make claims that contradict our conduct in real life." Bandar said that her song "What Is Your Father's Religion" was directed toward Muslim extremists, because "we are the most extreme people," adding: "If we stopped ruling others, there would be no extremism at all." Bandar, who came under fire for a tweet in which she had written that the Turks "are known for not using deodorant, and for eating lots of garlic, onion, and meat," denied that she was racist, claiming that she was "just trying to advise her female fans to marry Arab men" because they "have no problem with using deodorant." The interview aired on the Egyptian ON TV channel on January 19.
Following is a transcript:
Shams Bandar: Our problem in the Arab world is that we lie a lot. In our domain, the field of arts, there are many gays.
Hostess: Do you have many [gay] friends?
Shams Bandar: Of course. Makeup artists, hairdressers, fashion designers… All over the world… There are doctors among them. This has become the reality.
I have seen many celebrities who, in private, have many gay friends, but when they appear on TV, they say: No! I’m against it…
I hate this. I have gay friends, and I accept them. This is their own private matter.
Hostess [reading from the news]: “Controversy following Tunisian MP’s proposal to introduce sex education into schools.”
Shams Bandar: Bravo!
Hostess: You say bravo?
Shams Bandar: Of course.
Hostess: You encourage sex education for children?
Shams Bandar: It’s a part [of life].
Hostess: Why are some people against this, in your opinion?
Shams Bandar: As I’ve said, we lie a lot…
Hostess: All people lie?
Shams Bandar: This is characteristic of the Arab peoples… We have been taught that the concept of shame and morality forces us to make claims that contradict our conduct in real life. This is lying. You may call it a false claim or hiding one’s true identity, but at the end of the day, it is still lying.
Children begin to develop sexual urges at the age of two, and he begins to try to make sense of what is going on. So why shouldn’t we try to explain it to him, so he won’t go through things that will cause him psychological complexes?
Hostess: I support this. I don’t like it when people bury their heads in the sand.
Shams Bandar: That’s exactly what it is.
Religion is a way of life for Muslims, for Christians, for Jews, and even for Buddhists and followers of non-monotheistic religions. I don’t know how to interpret the word “religion”. I cannot talk about religion, but I can talk about moral values.
Hostess: Don’t you think that what you say might turn people against you?
Shams Bandar: I couldn’t care less.
Hostess: You don’t care at all?
Shams Bandar: Not at all. I am not here to please people. I’m not their friend. They are not my friends or my family…
Hostess: Who do you mean by “they”?
Shams Bandar: Everybody. The only ones who matter to me are the ones I respect. These are the people whose feelings I consider. But even people I respect – if they cross the line when it comes to my beliefs or my personal freedom, I lose all respect for them, because God created me free.
Hostess: Your song “What is your father’s religion?” – does it address Muslim extremists or extremists in general?
Shams Bandar: Look, we are the most extreme people, so if I said that the song addresses extremists in general, I would be lying.
The extremists who carry out bombings in Europe – in Belgium, in France, in London – always turn out to be our people. So naturally, my message is directed toward the majority. Unfortunately, this is the reality.
Hostess: What is the most prominent manifestation of Islamic extremism?
Shams Bandar: The rule! If we stopped…
Hostess: Do you mean Islamic rule?
Shams Bandar: No. If we stopped ruling others, there would be no extremism at all.
Hostess: [You said about the Turks:] “They are known for not using deodorant, and for eating lots of garlic, onion, and meat. I hope you will consider this seriously.”
Shams Bandar: Who was my message addressed to? Tell me. Why was I accused of racism? I was addressing my fans.
Hostess: But when someone accuses an entire people of not using…
Shams Bandar: But to whom was this addressed? Under what hashtag was it published?
Hostess: #to people who want to marry Turks.
Shams Bandar: When people eat garlic, onion, and meat and do not use deodorant, they, or the place where they are, smell. I was just trying to advise my female fans to marry Arab men. Arab men have no problem with using deodorant.
Hostess: I sense a little bit of racism here…
Shams Bandar: If you think advising a girl to marry an Arab is racism, then yes, I’m a racist.
By the way, the Turks hate us. They call the Arabs “sheep”. The Turks loathe the Arabs more than anyone, except the Jews.