Mayam Mahmoud, a poet turned rapper, first gained international attention when she made it to the 2013 Arabs Got Talent semi-finals. Now she is doing it again on a larger scale as a nominee for the 2014 Index Freedom of Expression awards.
Mahmoud is the only Egyptian nominee for the awards and has been selected as a candidate within the arts category.
Mahmoud competes with David Cecil, a British theatre producer who was expelled from Uganda for uncovering the country's "homophobic criminal code," Lucien Bourjeily, a Lebanese playwright who challenged censors with his play “Would It Pass Or Not?” and Meltem Arikan, a Turkish writer and playwright unveiling the taboo's of the country's patriarchal society.
During her appearance on Arabs Got Talent, the 18-year-old Mahmoud revealed that she started transitioning poems into rap songs when she was still in the primary school. Mahmoud's lyrics tackle issues related to women and issues they face in a male-dominated society.
Mahmoud also revealed that although she enjoys the full support of her family, she is subject to the judgment of a society with little tolerance for a veiled women who performs publicly.
Founded in 1972, Activities of Index, a registered charity organization based in London, has aimed to promote and defend freedom of expression. Index is supported by numerous donors which gives it the capacity to operate across many locations worldwide.
Fourteen years ago, Index launched the Freedom of Expression awards initiative to honor advocates of freedom of expression. Noteworthy award winners include figures such as Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai and Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat, among many others. According to Index, this year's selection pool was unusually large, with over 300 public nominations for the award. The final shortlist includes over ten names.
Results of the winners of Freedom of Expression 2014 awards will be announced on 20 March 2014 at London's Barbican Centre