Rod Stewart has issued an apology after he was accused of staging a mock ISIS beheading in the desert outside Abu Dhabi. Stewart’s apology followed a swift and furious backlash on social media when his wife uploaded a video that appeared to show Stewart and a friend re-enacting an ISIS beheading in the desert.
The video, captioned “Rod Stewart (leader) band doing a Beatles sand dune crossing,” shows Stewart, 72, his wife Penny Lancaster, 45, and a group of friends last Thursday, while on Stewart’s world tour that took them to Abu Dhabi. The video shows them walking in a line, climbing a sand dune in the desert outside Abu Dhabi, with Stewart’s wife, Penny, bring up the rear, the Independent reports.
The friends dance and prance playfully on the sand, balancing and rolling down the slope of the dunes. Penny falls on the sand and rolls down the dunes and then stretches out, lying on the sand.
The video then shows Stewart, 72, dressed in a white shirt and sunglasses talking to one of his friends, who kneels in front of him. According to the Guardian, Stewart appears to pull back his neck and pretends to cut off his head in an apparent mockery of an ISIS beheading.
The famous musician made a gesture mimicking the motion of slashing with a sharp object across the neck or throat of his friend kneeling on the sand.
— The Independent (@Independent) March 3, 2017
His wife, Penny, later posted a video of the bizarre performance to her Instagram account but deleted it quickly following a swift backlash on social media. Many social media users and members of the families of victims of ISIS beheadings condemned the action. Some angry social media users even suggested that Stewart’s knighthood should be withdrawn.
Some described the action as “deeply stupid” and “clueless.” Other condemned it as “sick,” “stupid,” and “offensive to ISIS” victims.
A former ISIS hostage, John McCarthy, who was kidnapped in Lebanon in 1986, accused Stewart of turning “a grotesque thing into a kind of pantomime,” according to BBC News.
He said it was not clear from the video whether Stewart was “larking about” or simply making light of the plight of ISIS hostages.
“This happened to my dad and it’s not something to joke about,” said Bethany Haines, the daughter of David Haines, a British ISIS beheading victim.
— People Magazine (@people) March 3, 2017
She described Stewart’s action as “disgraceful” and a “cheap joke.”
“I think it’s disgraceful that a celebrity who is thought of as a role model would do this sort of thing. There are some things that are funny but that isn’t,” Bethany told the Daily Mail.
“I had a lot of respect for Rod Stewart, now you couldn’t pay me to listen to his music.”
“Instead of putting his time and effort into a cheap laugh at people’s expense, he should be putting his time and effort into helping the people affected by what’s happened in Syria and everyone who’s been affected by ISIS,” Bethany continued, according to the Daily Mail.
“I’m appalled by Sir Rod Stewart’s sick sense of humour,” Haines’ widow, Dragana, 47, said. “I really wonder if he would find it funny if he lost his loved one in such a vicious and savage way.”
— Agenda Of Evil (@AgendaOfEvil) March 3, 2017
“He’s 72-years-old. That’s pretty brainless,” Dragana told the Mirror. “I don’t understand how someone could do something like that. It’s disgusting.”
“I think they should apologize to all the families,” she added.
— BBC Music (@bbcmusic) March 3, 2017
David Haines, 44, was a British aid worker who was the first British ISIS hostage to be executed by beheading in September of 2014. The grisly beheading was performed by the Kuwaiti-born British ISIS executioner, known as “Jihadi John.”
— Daily Mirror (@DailyMirror) March 3, 2017
— Daily Express (@Daily_Express) March 3, 2017
But Rod Steward later issued an apology, saying that he and his wife and friends were only “larking about pre-show,” that is, they were only having fun ahead of a performance in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. He insisted that his action was misinterpreted. He denied that the video was intended to show a mock ISIS execution and claimed that he and his friends were only “playing out Game of Thrones.”
“From re-enacting the Beatles’ Abbey Road crossing to spontaneously playing out Game Of Thrones, we were simply larking about pre-show,” Stewart explained, according to the Independent. “Understandably, this has been misinterpreted and I send my deepest apologies to those who have been offended.”
Stewart’s world tour will also take him to the U.S., where he will perform in Las Vegas and Florida, and then later in Mexico.
[Featured Image by Martin Meissner/AP Images]