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SXSW festival responds to Texas gov telling protesting bands ‘don’t come back’

The South by Southwest (SXSW) festival is clapping back at Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) after he told artists that are pulling out of the event over protesting U.S. foreign policy to not “come back” if they “don’t like it.”

Multiple bands and musicians pulled out of the festival over the U.S. Army’s “super sponsorship” of the event and the U.S.’s ongoing support of Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza.

In reaction to the news about the artists not performing for the sake of protest, Abbott told them if they did not enjoy it, they did not have to come back to the venue.

“Bye,” Abbott wrote in a Tuesday post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Don’t come back. Austin remains the HQ for the Army Futures Command. San Antonio is Military City USA. We are proud of the U.S. military in Texas. If you don’t like it, don’t come here.”

The festival responded shortly after, saying it did not agree with the governor and respected the artists’ decisions.

“We are an organization that welcomes diverse viewpoints,” the organization said Tuesday on X. “Music is the soul of SXSW, and it has long been our legacy. We fully respect the decision these artists made to exercise their right to free speech.”

The festival added that they welcomed the influx of diverse ideas and will continue supporting human rights for “all.”

“Across the globe, we are witnessing unspeakable tragedies, the rise of repressive regimes, and the increasing spread of violent conflict,” the organization said. “It’s more crucial than ever that we come together to solve these greater humanitarian issues.”

“We have and will continue to support human rights for all,” it continued. “The situation in the Middle East is tragic, and it illuminates the heightened importance of standing together against injustice.”

Ireland-based rap trio Kneecap, Scowl, Lambrini Girls, Gel, Okay Shalom, Squirrel Flower, and Sprints said they won’t be performing at the Austin, Texas, festival slated to run March 11-16.

The U.S. is the biggest supplier of weapons to Israel. President Biden has increased his criticism of the way Israel is handling the conflict and the rising civilian toll in Gaza. The U.S. Army is supplying humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza and will construct a seaport to boost the effort.

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