Egypt's Musicians' Syndicate has banned the popular street festival genre 'mahraganat'—a fusion of grime, rap and electro—for allegedly going against the conservative country's moral code.
The popular street festival genre is a fusion electro, grime and rap, and originated among Cairo's poor during the 2011 revolution which saw the ousting of then president Hosni Mubarak.
The ban comes shortly after a well-known mahraganat singer Hassan Shakoush performed a song whose lyrics were perceived to be "promoting promiscuity and immorality".
This past Valentine's Day, Shakoush performed at a concert held at the Cairo Stadium and attracted at least 100 000 attendees. Unfortunately for him, his lyrics "I drink alcohol and smoke hashish" enraged the Musicians' Syndicate which prides itself in enforcing the predominantly Muslim country's moral code.
Hany Shaker, the head of the union of musicians, commented on the matter saying, "This kind of music which is loaded with sexual innuendo and offensive language is completely unacceptable. That's why we have pulled the plug on it once and for all." In another interview, Shaker also added that, "There is semi-consensus among society's classes about the bad situation of art and public culture because of the so-called mahraganat songs, which combine tempos of zar [exorcism sessions] and suggestive, immoral lyrics."
Egypt Independent reports that the ban prohibits mahraganat singers from performing publicly including during concerts, at live shows, clubs, restaurants, tourist facilities and schools. This is a huge blow to the genre which after becoming mainstream, has been dominating the country's music charts and other platforms including SoundCloud and YouTube.
One Egyptian named Marwa Helmy commented on the ban saying, "I think they're policing people's tastes. And this will only drive the genre into a direction that could make it even more extreme." Helmy added that, "There's no point in banning it because it's supremely popular."