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    Posted November 10, 2012 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Turbulence, violence in the Middle East

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    Egyptian Underground Art Suffers from Governmental Extortion


    “You CAN NOT stop us from delivering our voice to each other”
    “My membership in your Syndicate is OPTIONAL and you don’t have the right to CENSORSHIP me”
    These are the words Underground bands used to spread the announcement for their protest.
    It’s a new/old/reinvented way to control the non-governmental art, that art which is very capable to annoy the authority, by the harsh sarcastic honest and painful criticism.
    The Syndicate of musical professions in Egypt does extortion just to inhibit the youth underground bands and incapacitates them from singing out loudly with frank and honest street talk and pains.
    Same way in the old regime, to guarantee that no one will be able to criticize them, those newly hired board of syndicate after a great revolution to play the same dirty role with new indirect methods, money and old unfair laws to keep the young musician out of stages, and control their talent, their future, their career, their dream, their existence and their living.
    In front of El Sakia (which is used to be independent Cultural center owned by business man and former Member of Parliament Eng.Mohamed Abdel Mone’m El Sawy) tens of underground bands members silently stand protested raising the signs wondering what that so-called syndicate offer in return of this formal extortion.
    The events began when some of Islamist interrupted a heavy metal concert accusing the performers that they are worshiping the devil and they use those concerts to preach their new religion!
    And when this trick didn't work, the syndicate sent collectors also to roughly interrupt the concerts (while the artists are performing in front of audience) asking them for money with cause that the performers are not members in the syndicates.
    Which lead the audience to return the tickets utterly unsatisfied from this cut-in-the-half concert.


    PS. the syndicate membership is OPTIONAL not OBLIGATORY.
    In a drastic response, a delegation from the syndicate shows up in El Sakia, and they stated with bald and arrogant accent “Any artist who performs without being a member of the syndicate is violating the law, and the money we collect is for eldest musicians, you pay for us to protect you”
    PS. they also stated that the syndicate belongs to ministry of culture, while all syndicates MUST be independents.
    This periodic extortion varies between minimum 250 EGP (per artist) and reaches at the maximum 200000 EGP (10 to 20% from total money artist get every time he peforms), while this so-called pension is 420 EGP per month, and the musician deserves this after he got 60 years old!
    El Sakia management offered to negotiate in behalf of the artists with the syndicate board, to keep the charges at the minimum and pay the money in installments. Which seemingly unaccepted from the majority of (500<) underground bands’ members.
    This is the State act instead of building theaters or open the official theaters doors for those talented youth to perform on it, here in Egypt you can normally find inhibition where you should find support.
    Ashraf Kenawy, theater manager (El Genina) El mawred cultural foundation, asked for a nicer treatment from the syndicate’s collector and considers not interrupting an artist during his performance on the stage as a sign of respect for both the artist and the audience.
    Nour Nageh, Singer and composer and owner of Lail w Ain band, talked about difficulties artists face if they think to perform on the national opera house (in absence of other alternatives)
    Hussein Darweesh, Egyptian Flute player, talked about illegal issues about the syndicate and how tiny the pension is.
    Eventually, the system still keeps throwing the obstacles in the way of free artists, singers, writers, Graffiti painters, every independent non-governmental artist, who are basically liberals and revolutionists just to keep them calm and quiet, so they’ll stop bothering the authority by their strong criticizing vivid art, which is NOT going to happen.
    Hasan Amin
    November 10, 2012

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