The Egyptian Music Syndicate has banned musicians performing the popular music genre Mahraganat, Arabic for festival.
Born out of Egypt’s slums, it was the first genre of music to deal with issues affecting poor Egyptians with tracks like “the people want five pounds of phone credit” going viral.
Mahraganat, which was formed in the early 2000s when wedding DJs combined chaabi folk music and electronic dance music with reggaeton, grime and rap, long preceded the revolution, but after 2011 the artists received greater exposure.
On Valentine’s Day Mahraganat artists Hassan Shakoosh and Omar Kamal performed the popular Bent El-Giran (the girl next door) at Cairo Stadium, whose lyrics “I drink alcohol and smoke hashish” stoked the anger of authorities.
Following the performance the syndicate has instructed clubs, hotels and music venues not to host Mahraganat singers.
Hany Shaker, who is the head of the syndicate, warned “legal measures will be taken against anyone who violates this decision.”
“It is time for the state to give attention to the real arts, and support and back the things that deserve to represent the culture of Egypt. The state is backing the ban.”
Shaker added that the lyrics promote violence, drugs and alcohol.
In an interview with pro-regime TV presenter Amr Adeeb Shaker said: “This type of music is based on promiscuous and immoral lyrics, which is completely prohibited, and as such the door is closed on it.”
He added that Mahraganat performers are responsible for “moral decline.”
Spokesman for the Egyptian parliament has said that Mahraganat is more dangerous to Egypt than coronavirus.
The Sisi regime has taken censorship in Egypt to new heights, stipulating that soap operas must not contain blasphemous or political content and police and authority figures must be shown in a positive light.
Belly dancers have been fined and jailed for allegedly inciting debauchery and artists and comics have been imprisoned as the government moves to crack down on free speech.
The well-known satirist Shady Abu Zeid has been imprisoned since 2018, whilst the Egyptian novelist Alaa Al-Aswany has been accused of insulting the president.