Egypt revolutionary singer Mohamed Mohsen speaks out on halted performance

AP and Ahram Online, Sunday 16 Mar 2014

Egyptian singer Mohamed Mohsen, known for his revolutionary music, recounts how authorities stopped him from performing at Egypt's Arts Celebrations event last Thursday

Mohamed Mohsen
Mohamed Mohsen performing in Bassem youssef show (Photo courtesy of Mohamed Mohsen Facebook account)

Mohamed Mohsen, an Egyptian singer known for his anti-government songs, said Saturday that authorities stopped him from performing at Egypt's official Arts Celebrations ceremony Thursday, 13 March, attended by Interim President Adly Mansour and held at the Cairo Opera House.

Sources quote "security concerns" as reason for the cancellation of Mohsen's performance.

Mohsen, who was scheduled to participate in the ceremony with a performance of Oum Ya Masry (Rise, Egyptian), said representatives from the presidency escorted him out of the Cairo Opera House before his performance and left him there as the concert went on without him.

Interim President Mansour and military chief Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, a likely presidential candidate, both attended the celebrations aimed at reviving the annual Eid El-Fan (Arts Celebrations) introduced by late President Anwar El-Sadat in 1976.

Sadat's Arts Celebrations lasted only four years and have been revived by Interim President Mansour as Egypt aims to return to its former status as a leader in the arts in the Middle East.

Mohsen sprung to fame by singing during Egypt's 2011 revolt. He performed in Tahrir Square, the centre of the protests that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.

Mohsen said he thought officials might have "specifically targeted" him over his revolutionary songs, or because he participated in the 2011 revolt.

Concert coordinator Hany Mehana told the private television channel Al-Nahar that there were security concerns about Mohsen and there wasn't "enough time to investigate."

Mohsen called the situation "illogical." He first wrote about his experience late Friday night on Facebook.

"I do not sing in the favour of anybody and I have never sung to praise a president," Mohsen told the AP. "I will keep on singing for the revolution," he added.

Mohsen recently represented Egypt as a singer in festivals in Italy and Lebanon. He is a member of the youth committee in a government cultural council.

Meanwhile, the popular television programme featuring Bassem Youssef, a satirist often compared to US comedian Jon Stewart, was deliberately jammed again Friday, Dubai-based MBC group said Saturday in a statement published on its website.

It again was not clear who was responsible for jamming of the MBC Misr channel signal. Last week, an MBC Misr spokesman said its signal was jammed deliberately 7 March as it broadcast El-Bernameg, or "The Program" in Arabic.

"I do not accuse anyone, but I wonder about the state's inability to protect its satellite," Youssef wrote on Twitter shortly after the jamming Friday. MBC Misr broadcasts on Nilesat, which is owned by the Egyptian government.

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