On November 3, 1999, Marcel Khalife stood before the Beirut Court of First Instance accused of blasphemy — charges that could warrant six months to six years imprisonment. Evidence of the crime was his song “Oh My Father, I am Yusif,” based on a poem by the renowned Palestinian poet and writer Mahmoud Darwish. The song is from the album “Arabic Coffeepot,” released in 1995. The story of Yusif (Joseph) and his brothers inspired the song, and lyrics include a verse from the Qur’an. The song’s citation of a Qur’anic verse drew hostile attention from Dar-al-Fatwa, Lebanon’s highest Sunni authority, which ruled that singing verses from the Qur’an was “absolutely banned.”
On December 14, 1999, the court found Marcel Khalife innocent of blasphemy.