A temporary ban on electro-beat “mahraganat” singers was declared by Egypt’s state-affiliated musicians’ association yesterday. This is the latest effort by the cultural elite to stifle the wildly popular genre.
Mahraganat, sometimes referred to as popular electro or “electro-shaabi,” is a genre with a large audience that mainly utilizes computer-generated and synthesized beats.
Its outspoken songs, which address issues like love, power, and money, are seen as crossing moral lines by some purists in socially conservative Egypt, a cultural powerhouse in the Arab world.
According to a statement released by the union yesterday, “the union has decided to temporarily stop permits provided to mahraganat singers in order to completely analyze their situation (and) in order to maintain Egypt’s cultural worth.”
Mustafa Kamel, an Egyptian singer, took over as the union’s leader while the suspension took place.
Hani Shaker, his predecessor, had spearheaded a campaign against what he deemed a “inappropriate” genre and made a decision to prohibit mahraganat singers from performing in clubs, cafes, hotels, and concert venues in February 2020.
“This type of music, which is full of crude language and sexual innuendo, is just wrong. We have therefore permanently stopped it, as Shaker stated at the time.
The policy was inconsistently applied.
Earlier today, union spokesman Tarek Mortada announced the formation of a committee to investigate the situation and decide on a course of action, which might include a permanent ban.
The goal, according to him, is to “preserve public taste throughout the nation.”
After the country’s 2011 uprising, mahraganat music became popular in Egypt, and its bizarrely named performers began to profit from their online fame.
It has frequently angered detractors for being “low-brow” due to its roots in urban areas of deprivation.