Elton John plays on in Morocco despite gay protest

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Elton John was expected to be the highlight of Morocco's biggest music festival last night, despite calls by the country's main Islamist party to ban the British singer because of his homosexuality.

The public spat between the organisers of the Mawazine Festival and the Justice and Development Party, or PJD, the country's largest authorised Islamist group, illustrates the growing rift between Morocco's Western-leaning authorities and conservative Muslim movements.

"This singer is famous for his homosexual behaviour and for advocating it," said Mustapha Ramid, a leader of the PJD, the biggest opposition party in parliament. "Promoting homosexuality is completely unacceptable," said Mr Ramid.

Officially, homosexual practices are a crime punishable by fines and prison sentences of up to three years.

The organisers dismissed the calls for a ban. "We deal with artists and intellectuals for what they do, without taking into account their private life," said El Hassan Neffali. ap

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