Songlines magazine recently posted an evocative blog about protest singers in the Middle East and their oppression by the current regimes:
With the death toll rising from the ongoing Syrian uprising, one of the voices of the movement, 42-year-old singer Ibrahim Qashoush, has met a gruesome end at the hands of the regime’s security forces. Qashoush, a fireman and poet from the city of Hama in central Syria, had written and sung verses that had become popular features of the uprising in his city, calling on Bashar al-Assad to leave.
On July 3, he disappeared and according to reports, his body was found in the city’s river with its throat cut and vocal cords ripped out. It suggests the brutality of the regime in the face of open articulation of dissent by protest singers and poets, though all reports from within Syria are impossible to verify due to the regime’s media blackout.
Hear Qashoush leading the crowds in Hama on this YouTube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH57lRemXtw&feature=player_embedded
Meanwhile, across the border in Lebanon, where Syria has for so long had a political as well as military presence, the uprising is building tensions. Beirut hipster Zeid Hamdan was jailed temporarily in July over slander charges he faces for defamation of the Lebanese president Suleiman in a song he posted on YouTube in August 2010. The track, ‘General Suleiman’, calls on not only the president, but also the country’s militiamen, corrupt politicians, arms dealers and foreign intelligence operatives to, ‘go home’.
The 35-year-old musician is a veteran of Beirut’s outspoken independent music scene and used to be one half of the electronica fusion duo Soap Kills. Prosecutors will now decide whether to press formal charges in a Middle East climate of increasing discontent towards those in power.
Judge the song for yourself at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L83n4zhg8Jw
See the original article here. You can also read my review of the Barbican's recent Night in Tahrir Square here.