Syria: Ibrahim Kashoush – Silencing the singer

21 September 2011
An article by the editor of the Los Angeles-based Al Jadid magazine, Elie Chalala, who has compiled exerpts of Arab writers revealing aspects of the late singer Ibrahim Kashoush’s life.

“A day after he had sang in protest in the square of his hometown, Ibrahim Kashoush was found dead, floating in the Orontes River (Al Asi). The fate of Ibrahim Kashoush expresses in the simplest terms the anger that has been driving Syrians in almost every corner of the country onto the streets and in front of the bullets of the security forces. I do not know how many people have heard of what happened to the popular Syrian singer, and by popular I mean singing the songs of the people, not of some inane pop star…”

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Elie Chalala is the editor of Los Angeles-based Al Jadid magazine, a Review & Record of Arab Culture and Arts as well as an associate professor of political science. “I appreciate your dedication to defending the right of musicians who suffer the horrors of dictatorship. The latest defense was of the late Ibrahim Kashoush,” wrote Elie Chalala to Freemuse.


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Illustration by Mike Sharp for Al Jadid Magazine
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Article in Al Hayat:
How Ibrahim Kashoush’s body was found

Daoud al-Shiryan wrote an article in Al Hayat newspaper which describes in detail how about how Ibrahim Kashoush’s body was found floating in the Orontes River (Al Assi River). The article was translated from Arabic to English and republished in Al Jadid no. 63, vol. 16. An excerpt:

“As the sun rose on Hama, its community began gathering around the body of Ibrahim Kashoush, with some differing on how to wash and shroud the dead man. Hamad insisted the martyr should not be washed, that the clothing in which he was killed should be the shroud in which he was buried, and that he should be buried in the very place where his vocal chords were removed.

One bystander asked “Where was Ibrahim killed?”

Hamad replied, “Ibrahim was killed in the Orontes Square, and it is there where his throat was stolen.”

Another shouted and proposed to return the body of Ibrahim to the river, for that was where it had been found.

Hamad turned down the idea, saying “we will carry him to the Square and bury him there — perhaps he will reclaim his voice and ours.”

So Hamad began organizing the funeral of freedom’s martyr, all the while repeating Ibrahim’s chants. Everyone responded enthusiastically and the Orontes River was enlivened by the passion of the people of Hama.

The water started to flow around Ibrahim’s body as it was laid to rest at the shore, and the martyr was eventually consumed by the waters of the angry river. His body faded, but his voice remained, expressed in the growing determination of the people….”

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This article was translated from the Arabic by Elie Chalala.




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Article in Al Jazeera:
His song ignited reaction to repression

In an article in Al Jazeera’s In Depth section, Leila Nachawati describes how the killing of Ibrahim Kashoush made his song even more popular, with demonstrators singing it, not only in Syria but abroad.

The article describes how YouTube has become the Assad regime’s main enemy in a ‘communication battle’:
“The Syrian regime, just like the rest of the governments of the region, is trapped in its own official narrative through its old traditional channels, regardless of the questioning entailed by citizen voices through new tools and media. (…) It was through YouTube that what has now become the anthem of the Syrian revolution was heard worldwide: “Irhal ya Bashar” [“Bashar, get out”].

The song, popularised by the voice of Ibrahim Kashoush, encouraged the Syrian president to leave with ironic lyrics and a catchy dabke beat. The government first tried to stop it by silencing the singer. In a symbolic and macabre response to Kashoush’s chanting, the singer appeared dead on July 5, his throat cut and his vocal cords ripped out – a message to anyone willing to speak up. Kashoush was killed but his voice was not silenced. The song became even more popular, with demonstrators singing it, not only in Syria but abroad. It ignited reaction to repression and it drew even more international media attention to repression in the country…”

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Leila Nachawati is a Spanish-Syrian activist and social media manager who writes on human rights and new forms of communication. She is a board member of AERCO (Spanish Association for Social Media Managers) and a contributor for projects including Global Voices Online and Periodismo Humano.




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