CONTROVERSY

Lebanese Pop Star Myriam Klink in Hot Water for Music Video

How a racy music video got a reigning Lebanese pop star in trouble with the law.

A controversial Lebanese-Serbian model and singer notorious for her crudely suggestive lyrics, borderline-pornographic social media posts, and generally voracious search for attention underwent more than six hours of questioning at a Beirut police station last week as part of an official investigation following the release of a music video of hers that has since been banned nationwide.

Myriam Klink, as she’s named, was interrogated along with male Lebanese singer Jad Khalife, who co-starred in the video, by the Internal Security Forces’ Office for the Combating of Cyber Crimes following a judicial decision issued less than 24 hours after her video’s release.

The content of the video—the broadcasting or sharing of which in Lebanon is now punishable by a fine of over $30,000—is in most respects par for the Klink course. Titled ‘Goal,’ it consists chiefly of the peroxide-blonde, silicone-and-collagen Klink moaning and rolling around on a bed with Khalife, the pair of them repeating that he has “scored a goal” (“I put it in you, and filled it up”, as the slick-haired Lothario croons). The appearance of a young child, however, who jumps up and down innocuously on the bed at certain moments, has been the aspect seized on by authorities, with the ban formally issued by a judge specially tasked with the protection of minors.

Reached via phone by The Daily Beast—the first outlet to which Klink has agreed to speak at any length—the singer denied any wrongdoing, saying the video was “something normal” and arguing that fellow Lebanese diva Haifa Wehbe had similarly incorporated children in her music videos in the past. “We see worse things in videos,” said Klink.

It’s true that the mother of the child in question, who is apparently a personal friend of Klink’s, has come forth to vouch for the latter and Khalife, saying she herself was present during the filming and the child is a fan of the singer’s. Nonetheless, the inclusion of a child in a video with so much overall erotic content – regardless of the fact the child herself is in no way sexualized—has even some of Beirut’s most liberal anti-censorship activists wondering whether a line was crossed.

“If there wasn’t a kid in it, we would’ve fully defended it,” Ayman Mhanna, Director of the Samir Kassir Eyes (SKEyes) Center for Media and Cultural Freedom, told The Daily Beast. “We are against any banning of the song. As for the video, child protection is a serious matter. But any sanction needs to be proportionate, so we’re against an overzealous decision.”

Similarly, the popular TV anchor Dima Sadek opined on Twitter that while Klink was free to do what she wanted with her own body, the “use of a child in erotic scenes that are almost pornographic” was unacceptable.

Still, others, such as the blogger Elie Fares, took a firm stand against the ban, adding it was curious that recent allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor by the male French-Lebanese musician Ibrahim Maalouf appeared to generate conspicuously less outrage in the country.

Whatever ethical questions may remain, it seems Klink is legally in the clear, at least for now. The singer told The Daily Beast that in order to leave the police station Monday she was compelled to sign a declaration that she wouldn’t repeat what she did. “They wanted me to sign not to repeat [it] again, I didn’t want to sign […] I didn’t do anything wrong […] I didn’t want to sign, I told them, ‘Arrest me,’ and they didn’t want to arrest me. So we started fighting inside; I wanted to stay, they wanted me to go.” A call placed by The Daily Beast to a police press spokesperson went unanswered.

In the end, Klink did sign the papers, though she insists she won’t stop making music videos. “I’m going to do a new song, I already did it but I’m [working on] the video clip now.”

“But you know there’s rules here in this country. I thought Lebanon is like Europe or whatever, but I just discovered yesterday that Lebanon is […] worse than Iran or KSA. Saudi Arabia to me is like the same. We look like we’re open-minded but […] deep inside we’re worse than Iran.”

One could certainly dispute the claim that Lebanon, with its casinos, all-night clubbing, and thriving local wine and beer industries was “worse” than the Middle East’s leading theocracies. The very existence of the Klink phenomenon itself suffices to dismiss it. Yet it’s also a microcosm of the vertiginous divides and confusions contained in this tiny patch of the Mediterranean squeezed so uncomfortably between Israel and Syria. If it strikes you as strange that the same country that gave the world Hezbollah—perhaps the most formidable jihadist militia on the planet—can also be home to a Paris Hilton knockoff who flashes her womanhood on Instagram, then get this: Klink is a self-declared fan of Hezbollah, once telling an interviewer she “likes” their leader Hassan Nasrallah “very much.” To grasp that she could have said this with perfect sincerity—and that Hezbollah themselves can be perfectly happy letting her get on with her circus while remaining fully committed to establishing an Islamic state—is to grasp something quintessential about the national attitude.

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Not that any of this need be anything more profound to Klink than just another notch on her much-whittled publicity bedpost. This is someone, after all, who first entered the spotlight with the release in 2012 of a song dedicated to “Antar”, her “lovely cat” —an allusion lost on exactly nobody. Highlights since then include being blocked by Facebook for wearing a swastika t-shirt; calling an admired local standup comedian a “gay asshole;” and claiming to have met Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, of whom she’s also evidently an admirer. If any of this sounds oddly familiar, consider (as the Lebanese blogger Ramez Dagher recently noticed) that she follows only one person on Twitter: Donald Trump. Truly, the pair appear to be kindred spirits: