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Les Dunes Electroniques returns to Tunisian desert

Les Dunes Electroniques, an electronic music festival held on a former Star Wars set in Tunisia, returned for the first time since 2014 last weekend, welcoming around 6,000 dance music and sci-fi fans to the Sahara desert for two days of music.

Taking place on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 November at Ong Jemel, near the border city of Tozeur, Les Dunes Electroniques (‘the Electronic Dunes’) debuted in 2014 but had been on indefinite hiatus since the 2015 terror attack at a tourist resort in Port El Kantaoui.

Boasting ‘30 hours of non-stop music’, the 2019 festival featured performances by 30 DJs, including Luciano, Apollonia, Baris K, Archie Hamilton, Parallells and Nicolas Lutz, across two stages.

According to RFI, Les Dunes Electroniques 2019 was organised by a Franco-Tunisian hotelier, with backing from the Tunisian tourist industry.

Ong Jemel was one of several Tunisian sites used in both the original and prequel Star Wars trilogies, serving as Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader)’s childhood home of Mos Espa, on Tattooine, in Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

Speaking to AFP, Melissa Fleury, a 22-year old festivalgoer who travelled from France, said: “I love festivals in France, but here in the desert and in the midst of this landscape, it is magical.”


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UK DJ on the run after ‘blasphemous’ Orbit show

A British DJ is wanted by Tunisian police and a nightclub shut down “until further notice” following a controversial performance at last weekend’s Orbit Festival in Hammamet.

Berlin-based Dax J has been sentenced to a year in prison for “offending public morality” for mixing the adhan – the Islamic call to prayer – into his set at the techno festival on Saturday, after video footage of the performance leaked online:

The governor of Nabeul, Mnaouar Ouertani, told AFP the club in which the offending performance took place, El Guitoune, will “remain closed” until further notice, and its manager has been detained for “violations against good morals and public outrage against [im]modesty. We will not allow attacks against the sacred.”

Around 98% of Tunisians are Muslims, and Islam is the state religion.

Dax J has since apologised. In a statement, Orbit says the DJ had “no intention of provoking your anger or offending you. It is clear, after his apologies, that Dax J is sincere and has no reason to hurt our dear festivalgoers. The sound of the call to prayer inspired him musically, and [he] found that tonality could touch us, which was the case. […] He did not think it would offend you.

“It is unfair that 20 seconds of music messes up a whole two-day event prepared over many long months.”

A recent report by NGO Freemuse revealed there was a sharp increase in “serious violations” of artistic freedom in 2016, with 1,028 attacks on musicians and other artists, including by the conservative musicians’ unions in Tunisia and Egypt.


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