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Hozier responds after fan was told to remove ‘Free Palestine’ scarf at Wembley Arena gig

Hozier pictured above (PA Archive)
Hozier pictured above (PA Archive)

Hozier and AVO Wembley Arena have responded after a fan was told to remove their ‘Free Palestine’ scarf while attending his London gig at the venue late last year.

In December 2023, Hiba Ahmad recounted being “pulled aside and escorted to wardrobe” for wearing a scarf in solidarity with Palestine, immediately after arriving at the venue.

The fan wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that they wear their ‘Free Palestine’ scarf “everywhere as a show of solidarity” but was told to remove the garment for their “own protection as I might get ‘hate crimed’ for wearing it.”

The concert goer added in their social media thread that staff said they would not confiscate their pride key chain, because they are “not political”.

They also claimed that venue staff were concerned that the fan would “launch the scarf at the stage”, but a picture revealed Hiba’s seat was far away from the stage.

In light of the claims in December, Hozier responded on X, saying how he and his team were looking into the incident.

Writing at the time, he said: “I can state categorically that no request came from me about this, and my tour gave no directive about refusing entry of certain items of clothing or indeed flags”.

A week later, Hiba shared an update on the social media platform, explaining that the general manager of the venue had been in touch with her, citing that the arena’s staff were acting “on the orders of Hozier’s tour manager”.

She wrote on December 23: “I had a lovely chat with the general manager of @OVOArena who assured me I didn’t break any policies with my scarf & that the staff acted.. on the orders of Hozier’s tour manager who had insisted on removing any and all references to Palestine in the arena.

“I will be receiving a public apology in the new year, the staff will continue receiving training on this issue, they will make their stance on political statements clear on their website, and they have also promised to donate money to humanitarian relief in Gaza.”

Two months on, AVO Wembley Arena shared a statement on their official X account on February 22, countering their staff’s previous claims that they were acting on the “artist wishes” and have apologised to those involved - Hiba and Hozier.

It read: “This was an isolated incident where venue policy wasn’t followed as intended. The decision to stop the guest was not following artist wishes.

“We have apologised to those involved and are making a donation to the UNICEF Children In Gaza Appeal.”

Speaking on the outcome, Hozier took to the platform on Monday and thanked the venue for “clearing up this misunderstanding”.

He added: “The team and I have zero policy of prohibiting signs of any kind and I’m sorry to Hiba and her friends that they experienced this at the London show.”

Responding to the Irish singer-songwriter, whose full name is Andrew John Hozier-Byrne, Hiba wrote: “Thank you so much Andrew, I really appreciate you reaching out directly, shows the person and artist you are. Solidarity.”

The furore comes months after Hozier urged his fans to demand that US politicians call for a ceasefire amid the ongoing Gaza-Israel war.