A Moroccan band that was scheduled to perform during last weekend’s Sacred Music Festival at the New Orleans Healing Center was forced to cancel their appearance after they were denied visas to travel to the United States.
Keith Spera of The New Orleans Advocate reports that the 12 members of Golden Patrimony, who play a form of African Islamic spiritual music called gnawa, were denied entry to the event, which is aimed fostering understanding between different cultures. Other international performers, including a Buddhist monk from Nepal and a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks who live in exile in India, were able to attend the festival.
Similar visa issues have been in the news lately, as a number of international bands were recently denied entry to the United States for Austin’s SXSW conference. While the Trump Administration’s new rules have been a problem for many artists attempting to enter the country, procuring a visa has never been an easy task. This year marks the second time that Golden Patrimony has been barred from entering the United States, as all but one of its members were denied visas for last year’s Sacred Music Festival.
“It’s just really sad,” festival director Sallie Ann Glassman told The New Orleans Advocate. “They had planned for a year to do this. They bought special instruments and clothing. They were doing all this on their own dime. They just wanted to come to the festival and share their culture. These guys are not a threat to national security.”
“This year, with all the immigration stuff going on, and because they’re all Muslim, we knew to be concerned,” Glassman added.