Anti-Israel protests disrupt Zubin Mehta’s concert in London

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Israel Philharmonic Orchestra`s BBC Proms concert at London`s Royal Albert Hall was disrupted on Thursday by protestors.

Indian composer Zubin Mehta, who was set to perform at the event, was booed out of the stage. Several demonstrators in the hall shouted slogans and disrupted the show. The performance, which consisted of four parts, was interrupted at about 19:45 BST and coverage was cut off again an hour later after more protests.

BBC Radio 3 said it had to interrupt its live broadcast twice "as a result of sustained audience disturbance".

The channel had been asked previously, by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to cancel the show. They also urged people to boycott the event.

The pro-Palestinian group claimed that the concert showed "complicity in whitewashing Israel`s persistent violations of international law and human rights".

The BBC Proms Team announced the cancellation of the show on micro blogging site Twitter: "We`re sorry that the concert was taken off air following hall disturbance. Glad both pieces were heard by the audience in the RAH(sic)."

It later added: "We regret that as a result of sustained audience disturbance tonight`s concert was taken off BBC Radio 3."

A spokesperson for BBC Proms stated that each piece had been targeted by different protesters who were seated around the hall.

“About 30 people were removed by security but there were no arrests and no violence”, she added.

Eyewitness account said that the moment Zubin Mehta stood up and began each piece, a small group of protesters each time tried to stop the music.

"They sang, they shouted, they were met by boos by the audience and they had to be removed by the security staff," said the eyewitness.

A group of protestors also protested outside the concert hall. They waved banners and sang songs in protest against the appearance of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO).

According to a regular proms-goer, there were six or seven disturbances during the performance.

"The first was in a quiet passage of the first piece," he said.

"About a dozen protesters in the choir seats stood up with a banner saying Free Palestine and started chanting and singing to the tune of Beethoven`s Ode to Joy.

"They were drowned out by the orchestra as the passage of music got louder and were ushered out."

The concert venue had high security and the police stated that no arrest were made.

Anti-Israel protesters have targeted classical music performances in the past.

In August 2008, five members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign disrupted a concert by the Jerusalem String Quartet at Edinburgh`s Queen`s Hall.

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