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Hassan Shakosh

Union of Egyptian Musicians Bans Homegrown Form Of Pop Music Over Lyrics

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CAIRO, Egypt (CelebrityAccess) — The Union of Egyptian Musicians has banned performances of a popular form of street music after the lyrics of a song in the genre were deemed to be too libertine for local sensibilities.

According to the Times of Israel, the ban, which was announced on Sunday, targets singers of mahraganat, a form of electronic pop music that rose to popularity in Cairo and spread during the 2011 uprising that ousted the Mubarek government.

Since then, mahraganat has become a cultural phenomenon in Egypt, spawning a new generation of musical and social media stars.

Earlier this month, the song “Bint al-Giran” (The girl next door) reached the milestone of 100 million streams on YouTube and became the second most-streamed song on the DIY streaming platform SoundCloud, the Times reported.

However, the song’s lyrics, which include stanzas such as “I drink alcohol and smoke hashish,” have drawn the ire of Egypt’s highly conservative government, most notably the culture ministry.

The controversy came to a head on Friday when singer Hassan Shakoosh performed the song at Cairo stadium in front of tens of thousands of fans.

The government’s response was swift and on Sunday, the head of Egypt’s Musicians Union Hany Shaker announced that the music was banned from public performances, including clubs, cafes, hotels, and concerts.

“This kind of music which is loaded with sexual innuendo and offensive language is completely unacceptable. That’s why we have pulled the plug on it once and for all,” Shaker said in an interview on Egyptian television on Sunday.

According to the Times, the Union said “legal proceedings” will be brought against any establishment that hosts such performances.

Shakoosh’s manager later apologized, telling the AFP on Monday: “We are very sorry for our mistake and respect the union’s decision.”

“We have lost 17 gigs overnight — besides the emotional stress on Shakhoosh and the team with everyone jumping in and commenting about our music,” he added.

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