A little music goes a long way in Egypt vote

Tue May 22, 2012 11:28am EDT
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By Dina Zayed

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's presidential hopefuls have had to zip their lips before voting starts, but there is no stopping the songs that pump up their virtues in styles ranging from hip-hop to folk.

For the first time Egyptians get to pick their leader in voting on Wednesday and Thursday in a fiercely contested race enlivened by another novelty - online music videos.

Many of them are the work of underground musicians who flourished since the popular uprising that overthrew Hosni Mubarak last year and who can capture political moments too fleeting for the mainstream music industry to latch onto.

"Our revolution will not fade," goes a tune like a football chant, written in support of Islamist Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, seen by some as a flag-bearer for revolutionary values.

"Oh vote for a strong Egypt. Our path is long but we will reach freedom," sing the Abol Fotouh Ultras, a reference to football fans called "ultras", who guarded street barricades against attacks by police and Mubarak supporters in the revolt.

The online tunes backing one or another of the 12 candidates attract tens of thousands of viewers and were often played at campaign rallies, which came to an end on Sunday under election rules. Some songs echo on the streets as mobile ringtones.

Pop singer Shaaban Abdel Rahim is backing former Arab League chief Amr Moussa in another of his catchy political lyrics.

"I love Amr Moussa, the sincere, the sensitive. God willing, he will succeed and this is the president." Abdel Rahim, or Shabola as he is known, sings in his folk style. "A first-class politician and the world can testify."   Continued...