Protest songs influence Arab Spring in 2011

Protest songs influence Arab Spring in 2011



Maybe one of the greatest events in 2011 were the protests and revolutions sparked in North Africa and throughout the middle east. Many of the protesters participating in the Arab Spring were fueled by songs denouncing their country’s regime and their brutal practices against the people. Here’s a look at a few of these influential songs.



Tunisia was were the Arab Spring began and from its inception, the rapper El General was supporting the movement and producing music both condemning Tunisian President Ben Ali and firing up his fellow protesters to take a stand. His song, The President of the Country, was released during the earliest days of Tunisia’s revolution and at first, was passed via CD or thumb drive to Tunisian youth. The song calls for President Ben Ali to take action and help his starved and suffering people. When this song became mainstream, El General was promptly arrested and thrown in jail. He’s out now and continues to produce tunes that inspire his people to take a stand.



Not all protest anthems are loud, however they all carry a dramatic and relevant message. Cairokee is one such band, from Egypt, whose indie rock style is calm and smooth yet packs a punch. Their song Leaders Wanted, was released after Egypt’s President Mubarak was ousted from power. The song calls for another to step up and lead the country, but comes with a warning. If the next leader abuses power, Egyptian protesters will once again fill the streets. Its a mellow and popular tune but issues a strong warning for those against the welfare of Egyptian people.



In Syria, the meaning of the word shame does not translate directly in English. In Syria, this word is much more dramatic and is seldom used unless great atrocities take place. Syrian musician Samih Shkair has entitled one of his songs Shame and denounces Syria’s regime and military practices of killing children and banning food and water to many of its people. This song too is calm but sticks to a traditional eastern melody, rather than incorporating rap or indie sounds. It also remains the only song from Syria that condemns the regime and their despicable actions against its people.