An ad for an upcoming concert from a Grammy-winning North African rock band has prompted threats and hate-speech on social media.

“Go home, maybe your country will like your music,” is one of the comments left on a Facebook sponsored ad promoting Tinariwen's Winston-Salem show. Many of the other comments are much more explicit. 

There are also threats of gun and bomb violence, and some comparing the group — which has shared stages with Robert Plant and The Rolling Stones — to the Taliban and ISIS. 

The post includes a picture of the band outfitted in traditional turbans and robes.

Andy Tennille is one of the co-owners of The Ramkat, where the concert will take place. He says the comments are, "racist and completely misguided."

The band hails from a turbulent region of northern Mali. The group has been fighting oppression through their music and spreading a message of positivity via their desert-blues for over 20 years.

They are considered one of the most respected acts in rock 'n' roll.

Interview Highlights

On his reaction to the comments:

Just disgusted. Disgusted at the fact that people were so emboldened to put such hateful and vitriolic words in a public forum. It was incredibly disappointing. And initially the first couple of comments, I deleted the comments because I was ashamed and disappointed at the fact that this kind of hate and vitriol was happening right here in Winston-Salem. And then [co-owner] Richard [Emmett] and I had a conversation about it, and we both kind of came to the conclusion that the right way to handle this is to let the comments be in the light. And it's better to have these people be identified with the comments they're making versus us deleting them and somehow not shining a light on this kind of behavior, which both of us — and all of us — should feel is totally unacceptable.

On security at the concert:

I think first and foremost I'd say that we take security very, very seriously at the venue every concert that we have. We do a security check. We ask people to empty their pockets. Everyone is wanded before they enter the venue. So we take that very, very seriously first and foremost. With regard to this show, we will definitely be reaching out to the Winston-Salem Police Department to have a police presence on site. We'll probably have some additional security of our own team inside.

On what this means for the Winston-Salem community: 

I think more than anything what I hope is that all of this negative feedback that we received on our Facebook posts, and the hate that it seemingly stirred up, [that] we can take all that in and turn it into love, and reflect it back to this band when they walk on stage on September 17th. Because these kinds of comments and hate speech are totally misguided. I mean you're talking about a band that is part of a nomadic tribe in North Africa who's been marginalized for most of their lives. And for us not to embrace those folks, you know, it's just completely misguided. I really hope that Winston-Salem, the Piedmont Triad, and just the music community in this region, takes this opportunity to show what a welcoming place Winston-Salem is, that we are a place that celebrates diversity, that we are an inclusive community, and shows them love when they show up in Winston. Cause we're really lucky to get them here.

Tinariwen is playing at The Ramkat on September 17, with opening act Lonnie Holley


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