- By Marya Hannun<p> Marya Hannun is a researcher at Foreign Policy. </p>
When Justin Bieber performed in Istanbul on Thursday night, did he halt his concert out of respect for Muslim fans — or because he was getting pelted with toys?
This is the stark question before us today amid reports from U.S. entertainment outlets that the teen pop sensation observed the Muslim tradition of silence during the call to prayer by interrupting his performance. E! Online reports:
Fans were shocked and delighted… when the "Boyfriend" singer paused his show for the first time thanking the singer for being "respectful" and a "great man."
As E! reported, fans rushed to Twitter to praise the artist’s cultural sensitivity:
Justin showed tonight in Istanbul/Turkey how much he respects the muslim beliebers. BEST IDOL EVER
— Belieber (@BiebsHeaven) May 2, 2013
Some were even more enthusiastic:
— Haroon Moghul (@hsmoghul) May 3, 2013
And even those indifferent to the Biebs were swayed by the gesture:
I’m not a Justin Bieber fan but as a Muslim, he totally earns my respect twitter.com/justamalaykid/…
—luqieman(@justamalaykid) May 3, 2013
But Beliebers and newly converted Beliebers might want to hold their enthusiasm in check. Hurriyet, a leading Turkish daily, is reporting that toys — not the call to prayer — were behind the show’s suspension:
Fans were throwing toys and scarves at the beloved singer as a show of appreciation, but the teen magnet decided he wanted no more of it, and abandoned the stage.
He stayed backstage and refused to come out until an announcement was made in Turkish, informing fans that the show would not go on until the toys stopped coming in.
Bieber then continued on with his show.
The news comes after Bieber caused a stir at an airport in Istanbul by refusing to go through passport control.
So, which is it? A hotheaded diva moment or a gracious act of cultural sensitivity? We may never know what really happened Thursday night — unless, that is, any Turkish Beliebers out there care to step forward as eyewitnesses.