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Muslim rapper cancels TV performance to avoid Trump

NEW YORK: The rapper Belly, a Canadian of Palestinian origin, canceled a coveted appearance on a late-night US television show as a protest against fellow guest Donald Trump.

Belly had been due to perform with R&B sensation The Weekend on Wednesday night on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to promote the rapper’s upcoming album “Another Day in Paradise.”

But Belly announced that he was scrapping the performance because Trump was the main guest, with the rapper saying he preferred to focus on “positivity and love.”

“I just didn’t want to feel like I was part of a celebration for somebody who has beliefs the majority of us don’t agree with,” said Belly, who was born in the West Bank and grew up in the Canadian capital Ottawa.

Trump, who has crossed the threshold of delegates needed to become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, has sought to build support among working-class white voters by railing against Muslims, Mexicans and other groups.

Trump had called for an indefinite ban on the entry of all foreign Muslims into the United States on the basis of their religion.

“For me, being Muslim and being somebody that appreciates my access here in America, I love the fact that I’m able to be here,” said Belly, whose real name is Ahmad Balshe.

“To play my part in this business is a privilege and a beautiful thing. The fact that I could lose that ability through the actions of someone such as Donald Trump isn’t right to me. At all,” he said.

Belly has drawn growing interest in the hip-hop world amid a wave of international success stories from Canadian musicians — notably Drake, one of the top-earning rappers in the past two years.

Belly helped write Toronto-born The Weeknd’s breakthrough album “Beauty Behind the Madness” and last year was signed by the Roc Nation label of hip-hop mogul Jay Z.

With Belly and The Weeknd off, the jazz singer Gregory Porter instead was the musical performer on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” which along with competing late-night US shows is a highly sought outlet for artists to promote their work to a wide viewership. –AFP