KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) _ Reggae star Ziggy Marley on Sunday denied that his band had canceled a concert in Austria this week because of the European country’s government links to far-right faction leader Joerg Haider.
``I had already told my management that we just wanted a small tour,″ Marley told The Associated Press. ``I had heard something about Haider and some Nazi connection, but that’s not the main reason.″
Marley is the leader of the Melody Makers, which has won three Grammy Awards. The band, which includes four of Bob Marley’s children, opens its European tour Tuesday in Germany.
The band was booked to perform Saturday at the annual Spring Vibration Festival in Wiesen, Austria. But last month festival organizers announced Marley would not perform because he ``does not want to play in a country with a Nazi in the government,″ festival spokeswoman Alexander Swoboda said.
Dozens of other musicians and performers have canceled participation in Austrian events to show their opposition to Haider, to his praise of the Nazi era and to the anti-immigration and anti-foreigner stance espoused by the Freedom Party, which Haider used to lead.
But Marley said that, while he had taken Haider’s position into consideration, it was the group’s hectic schedule that forced it to bypass Austria.
Haider is governor of southern Carinthia province, but holds no federal post. The Freedom Party joined the government in February, prompting European Union member countries to impose diplomatic sanctions against fellow-member Austria.