Hip hop ain’t dead, it never died, it just moved to the Middle East, where the struggle’s still alive.
(Arabian Knightz – Uknighted State of Arabia)
The message from the song “Uknighted State of Arabia” by Egyptian rap crew Arabian Knightz, featuring 29 musicians from all over the Arab world is clear: hip hop artists from the Middle East and all over the world need to unite to bring back the spirit of hip hop music and talk about the different struggles against totalitarianism, occupation, poverty and oppression. Arab hip hop can be a great inspiration to the global movement, considering its important role in voicing the different revolutions that took place across the Middle East in recent years. As rapper Karim from Arabian Knightz—known by his stage name Rush—explains:
Guess what, they’re all pointing at us right now. They’re like, ‘Listen, when they had a revolution, these guys were talking about it, and when we have riots you guys are talking about ass and tits? Where is us, where is our problems?’ Hip hop is about the struggle, so we’re actually putting a bunch of them on blast without even doing it purposefully.
But how does hip hop fit into Arab culture? Is it an American invention or something authentically Arab? Does hip hop have the potential to unite different struggles in different national and social contexts? And is that aforementioned struggle a crucial part of hip hop culture or just one of many possible approaches? These are some of the topics that I talked about with Karim. Arabian Knightz is an Egyptian rap trio – composed of artists Rush, Sphinx, and E-Money – that formed in 2005 and employs a mixture of English, Egyptian Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic in their songs. All following quotes are by Karim, unless labeled otherwise. Continue reading →
A few months ago I went to an Arabic film festival in my hometown in Germany. I saw a movie called „Tahrir 2011 – The Good, the Bad and the Politician“, which pictured the different sides involved in the revolution. Most of the film consisted of images from the protests, powerful videos that showed people praying while being attacked with water canons, the make-shift hospitals where volunteers of all types treated the injured and the mentally exhausted, and, especially, it showed those thousands and millions of voices chanting, chanting, chanting for freedom and peace. When I saw those images I was thrown back into the time of the revolutionary climax and I had such a strong urge to go back to that time of hope, solidarity and excited astonishment at what people were capable of. I thought to myself, that if every Egyptian watched these videos once a week nobody would give in to the resignation in the light of unsatisfying politics and the frustration that befalls a country when the revolution ends and bureaucracy starts.
So, with this in mind, I decided that I should try to contribute something to reminding people of what they have so incredibly achieved and what they should not let fade away so quickly. The following series of photos and interviews are the result. Each picture shows one person and their most important memory from the days of the revolution. The title of the series and the beginning of each sentence is: „I still remember…“ Please scroll down to see the larger images (English translation below the picture). Continue reading →
This sign from the revolution days just got a whole different meaning…
After the Egyptian parliamentary elections last November, where the Muslim Brotherhood won the majority of votes, I asked my grandmother whether she was going to vote at the Shoura Council elections aswell. She told me that she would not. Why?
„Last time we all went to vote. And now see what happened: the Muslim Brotherhood won anyway.“
At that time I told her: that’s democracy. It happens that the party you support does not win in the end. But resigning and not voting again because of that will make it even worse. Like in the Shoura Council elections, where the Brotherhood was even more successful than before – with a very low turnout of less than 20%.
So, with this in mind, why have I decided not to vote in the run-off for the presidential elections? Continue reading →
From what I learned in history class or books of historical battles, I always understood that he who kills most of his enemy’s men is the one who will be victorious in the end. It seemed to me that victory depended on the ability to diminish the opponent’s army or people, therefore making them too weak to continue fighting.
However, what we have been seeing in the Arab spring’s revolutions suggests quite the opposite. Here we have the aspect of martyrdom, that turns every death from a weakening of the „troops“ into a reason to fight even harder. Continue reading →
Just kidding. They aren’t. But I am pretty sure that this header will get my blog a lot of views. That’s just about the same technique the Western media have been using in the last few days. Most of the times, when I write something, it’s because I’m angry. And reading the news or listening to people commenting on them has in fact made me very angry. Words like „Sharia“ and „Islamistic party“ are used to cause panic and fear of what comes after the uprisings in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. These in no way objective pieces of news are causing an „I told you so!“ mentality in the heads of Western so-called democrats, who believe that they have a monopoly on democracy. I hear them talking of the Arab revolution attempts as a ridiculous effort that has hardly any chance of succeeding. Continue reading →
Never has one been more grateful to have the Russians back in the sea resorts of Egypt. Every foreigner is now more welcome than ever, since the revolution has chased huge amounts of tourists out of the country and created a massive loss for around 20 million people who are directly and indirectly profiting from the tourism industry… a number as large as the whole population of Cairo.
But while the poor tourists had to flee from empty breakfast buffets, the scary view of tanks in the streets and the inaccessibility of sights such as the pyramids, there were Egyptian expats all over the world trying to get into their country. In times where every single person who joins a demonstration contributes to the safety of every other demonstrator many Egyptians abroad were drowning in desperation over not being able to protest, not being there to celebrate, not even being in danger of getting arrested.
„It felt horrible!“, says Bassem, 25, an Egyptian who has lived in Egypt many years, but moved to Kuwait 11 months ago, „History was in the making, my country was being born again and I could only spectate from the outside.“ Continue reading →