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Kneecap pull out of South by Southwest festival in US

Belfast rap trio Kneecap have announced that they will not play the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival as part of their stance in the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict.

The group were due to play three shows at the prestigious Texas arts festival, which takes place from 8-16 March.

Yesterday, the band posted a series of messages on social media platform X against backgrounds of the colours of the Palestinian flag.

In the messages, they wrote: “We have made the decision to cancel our three shows at SXSW and not travel to Austin as planned on Tuesday.

“It is done in solidarity with the people of Palestine and to highlight the unacceptable deep links the festival has to weapons companies and the US military who at this very moment are enabling a genocide and famine against a trapped population.”

The statement continued: “We cannot in good conscience attend an arts festival that has ‘The U.S Army’ as a ‘Super Sponsor’ and is platforming RTX (formerly Raytheon), Collins Aerospace, and BAE systems, the very companies selling the weapons that have murdered 31,000 Palestinians, over 21,000 of them women and children.”

The band said that the numbers killed in the conflict are “ten times the number of people killed in a 30-year war in the North of Ireland… in five months.”

“These organisations are literally profiting from and facilitating war crimes.”

Saying that the decision to pull out of the festival will have “a significant financial impact” on the band, “both on lost income and on logistical costs already incurred”, the band said that “it isn’t an iota of hardship when compared with the unimaginable suffering being inflicted” on the people of Gaza.

They added that the organisers taking “the decision to mix the arts with the military and weapons companies is unforgivable.”

The band said they had considered playing “unofficial events” at the festival, but felt this would “still contribute to the festival indirectly” and said to fans who bought tickets to their shows, “we know you understand our decision.”

The group have spoken out about their views during several public appearances of late, including their recent appearance on RTÉ’s Late Late Show. DJ Próvaí wore a pro-Palestine football jersey and the band sported pro-Palestine watermelon badges, despite a request from the show’s producers not to break broadcasting rules about impartiality.

Kneecap on The Late Late Show

Several days ago, the band performed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, but said in advance that were unable to make any statement about their stance on the conflict as the performance was pre-recorded.

Speaking the the Irish Star ahead of the appearance, Móglaí Bap said, “It’s pre-recorded so we’ll not get away with [saying] anything because it’s not live. It’s very hard for people to stop you on live TV. We got away with it on the Late Late Show.”

“We’ll always use our platform to try and educate people because, in America especially, the media are very one-sided, with Fox News and all that stuff,” he said.

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