Showing posts with label music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label music. Show all posts

Oct 6, 2015

In Egypt: Freedom of Expression is Under Military Attack

The 'Egyptian Shakira (Suha Mohammed Ali) and her recent album is call "al-Kamoun"
In Egypt, freedom of speech has been worsening since the military has taken over control of the country after it ousted President Morsi, in 2013. Recently, an Egyptian court sentenced two women to six months in prison. The two performers are famous belly dancers and known as Bardis and Egyptian Shakira (Suha Mohammed Ali and Dalia Kamal). Their charges are committing debauchery and promotion of immorality through their videos. If carefully watched, neither of the two videos contains nudity or promotes immorality. So, why the court has charged the two singers into six months prison? What is in the video that could be assumed offensive to Egyptians?

For Egyptian Shakira, the video clips starts with a scene where a dancer swings her hip while clinging to the wall. Then, the scene leads to a decorated room, more looks like a bar, or a nightclub, than a studio. The main character of the video is the singer who emerges with extravagant makeup. A few scenes later, the singer and dancers appear in school uniform. Thus far, everything looks normal, but what come next could be provocative parts for some religious viewers in Egypt, which could be one of the reasons that the court might based on its charges against the dancer. At one point, the singer appears in bare shoulders, while dancing in a close-up view for the camera, she bites and sucks her lips, which could be interpreted as deliberately and sexually enticing. In many Muslim countries, singing, dancing and demonstrating any sign of explicit sensual acts are forbidden and the consequences might be dire.

Another controversial part is when the singer holds a hot red pepper (felfel), which is among aphrodisiac spices in Arab culture and traditionally, it is considered one of the spices that men need for awakening sexual desire. This scene is aggravated towards the end of the clip where the singer closes her eyes, and acts in an orgasmic manner by adding a groaning sound affect towards the end of a verse and then lands on the floor, next to a white scooter. Though all these gestures seem childish and insecure, zooming in on red lips, moving hip in short skirts that reveal dancers thighs could be provocative to religious viewers, but again, it all indicate that the singers use them tongue-in-cheek.

By looking at some traditional belly dancers videos from the 1980s and 90s, in which the dancers appear in a more inadequately clothed, Suha Mohammed Ali and Dalia Kamal Youssef are very modestly looking. Suha and Dalia are not the first to be prisoned. In July, another woman, Reda el-Fouly and her boy friend, who made a homemade video, was convicted of similar charge.

Similarly, in March, a well-known dancer - Safinaz - was sentenced to six months in prison. But what is different between these dancers and those dancers from twenty, or thirty years ago, is not how decent, or indecent they appear in their videos, rather it is the relative freedom of speech that once existed under the Hosni Mubarak role, which is now has gone.

While suppressing freedom of speech, in the time of Mubarak had been systematically motivated by political intentions, during the current regime - which leads by the military commander, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi – suppression of freedom of speech is motivated by fear. The military ruling government which demonstrates itself as a savior of the “January 25, 2011 Revolution” is now cracking down not only on Muslim Brotherhood, human rights activist, secular and leftist elites, but also going after artists who even do not seem to be threats at all. The current military regime in Egypt carries out all these crackdowns and violence against its own citizens in order to establish itself an indisputable authority and as the only liberator and guardian of the Egyptian people since 2011. What is now happening in Egypt makes people nostalgic of the Mubarak era and according to what is coming out of Egypt and what analysts believe is as long as the country is being governed by the military and the clamp down is continued to such a horrific level, the prospect of freedom of expression will be grim and gloomy.

I wrote this post in the beginning of September, but for some reason it was lost among other files.  

Mar 19, 2014

A Melody of Hope with Rabab and Nowruz 1993

I published this on my photoblog, and today, I thought, why shouldn't I post it here as well. Well, this headless person who plays this piece of music on Rabab is me. I improvised this melody while I was procrastinating with my homework. I recorded it last year when I was in college and presented it to a friend. I’m a beginner and pardon me for any mistake if you noticed.

Rabab is one of the most respected instruments in Afghanistan and in fact, it was originated in Herat, western Afghanistan, and then spread throughout Indian subcontinent. Those who are familiar with the history of the Mongol Invasion of India, especially, with the Delhi Sultanate in 1200, and the spread of Islamic mysticism through Afghan Sufis, they can understand the influence of this mystic instrument on Indian music as well.

Rabab - though slightly different in shape - is widely used in Indian classical music today, which has also an immense influence on Afghan classical music. It is also a popular instrument in Central Asian countries, namely in Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, though, with different forms, and with a few extra strings.

Rabab is an Arabic word "رباب" rābāb, which is a feminine name, and presumably the name of a peerless beautiful girl who probably lived in Levant. According to the myths, someone who fell in love with Rabab, made an instrument in her name to lament his affliction, and pain through the sounds of a magical, and mystical instrument "Rabab."

Today, Rabab is pronounced differently. For instance, in Pakistan, and India, people pronounce it Robab, Rabob and Rubab. An astute reader of this text should remember that though these names have almost similar sounds, the correct way to pronounce it is “Rābāb” otherwise, it means something else.

Final note:
Happy Nowruz, Happy New Year to all of you! I wish you a prosperous year, filled with health and creativity!

Mar 28, 2009

Time to Hip Hop and Rock

It is regretful since I came to the United Sates, I never wrote about my adventure on my blog. Henceforth, I promise myself at lest to write a few posts per week about the events that leave impression directly or indirectly on me. This also has to be described what those are directly and indirectly impressions. Shortly to say directly when I am involved and indirectly when I hear from others or read.

By accident I went to MTV channel, the people exploding with joy and moving their bodies. In their website says, it is the spring Panama City Beach, where thousands of bathing beauties rock it all day long to Lil Wayne, Flo Rida, Kid Cudi, 3OH!3 and more.

The other fellows are left for weekend at the beach, I can’t remember exactly to which one but they will spend two nights there. I remain in my apartment and stick around Duke Campus. People are so kind here especially Ty who take care of me and today he took me to his parent’s house.

By the way, today I got a pink bicycle from our office at Sanford institute to use it and as transportation for going around and may be far from campus. I am enjoying of hard metal, hard rock and hip hop which are rocking really. Sometimes I am tired of reading news especially about my country but it is time to rock with these music.