Friday, May 16, 2003

Perceptive readers will notice that this link comes a trifle late. Chuck Freund has written a fine and original piece on how Arabic pop artists have responded to the war in Iraq, and more generally to what he refers to as the "Pan-Arabist paradigm."

Here are the opening paragraphs:

Earlier this month, an Arabic dance track called "Longing Brought You to Me" hit Number 1 for the sixth consecutive week on one of the region's leading music countdowns, the Beirut-based Top 20. The song is a slickly produced disco throwback, a kind of track that often does well in the region's music market. What makes its continued success noteworthy, however, is that the woman who performs it, a Kuwaiti singer named Nawal, had recently taken an interesting political risk.

Even as nearly every other popular Arab singer was still bewailing U.S. "aggression"—the inevitable term—against the Iraqi people, Nawal had publicly congratulated Iraqis on getting rid of Saddam Hussein and his murderous regime. She was able to break with the Pan-Arabist line on the war —that the whole Arab world had been under attack by Western imperialism— which had totally subsumed the region's pop culture, while not paying any price in popularity.

For a longer piece by Chuck on the liberating impact of popular culture, read this from the March 2002 issue of Reason magazine.

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