Pop Music and Social Protest in the Arab World

Analysis, posted 03.06.2011, from Tunisia, in:

Over the past days and weeks of the "Arab Spring", many political observers in the West have been rubbing their eyes in astonishment at the fury and intensity of the popular uprisings in the Arab world. This has served to spotlight how little acknowledgement in the West has been given to the deep-seated dissatisfaction felt by Arab civil society.

This is also and particularly true for the younger generation, which has so vehemently rebelled against the suppression of free speech and artistic freedom as well as against the social hardships and the lack of job opportunities in their countries. And this didn't just come about yesterday.

"We were brain dead" 

Today, young people make up the majority of the population in the Arab states. In Egypt, for instance, they have been the main victims of "Mubarak's wars against his own people" for decades, says the Egyptian sociologist Saad Edin Ibrahim. They are the victims of state emergency laws, media censorship, torture by the police, and subject to arbitrary judicial rulings. The anger of a youth suppressed for decades has finally brought the pot to a boil.

Karim Kandeel, the front man and guitarist of the punk band "Brain Candy" from Cairo, is one of those desperate youths who have suffered too long under Mubarak's regime. "We were brain dead and would have perished – slowly but surely," says the 23-year-old musician reflecting on the oppressiveness of Egyptian cultural policy under Mubarak.

[See accompanying URL for full article.]

Arian Fariborz 

© Qantara.de 2011

Translated from the German by John Bergeron

The author is a specialist in Islamic studies and political science. His book "Rock the Kasbah – Popmusik und Moderne im Orient" ("Rock the Kasbah – Pop Music and Modernity in the Orient") was recently published by Palmyra Verlag.

Editor: Lewis Gropp/Qantara.de