Shaaban Abdel Rahim Accused of Stealing ‘I Hate Israel’ Lyrics
A row has erupted in Egypt over who came up with the anti-Israeli lyrics that made an overnight singing sensation of a working class crooner, according to Reuters.
Shaaban Abdel-Rahim, who was a little-known singer for about 20 years, was elevated to superstardom with his song "I Hate Israel," released after Palestinians launched an uprising against Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza last September.
The refrain "I Hate Israel and I love Amr Moussa" -- a reference to Egypt's pro-Palestinian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa -- became an instant hit when popular sentiment against the Jewish state was running high over the Israeli-Palestinian bloodshed.
But poet Awad Badawi, who has turned his hand to lyric-writing for top Arab singers, now says he thought up the famed phrase.
"I want to get my right, to prove that Shaaban Abdel-Rahim stole this phrase and the idea and made a song out of it," Badawi told Reuters, adding that he intends to take legal action.
"(Abdel-Rahim) is a working-class illiterate singer, so what got him into politics and Israel? It was my idea, he never would have thought about a subject like that," Badawi said.
He said colleagues bandied his lyrics around at a private music soiree last October attended by Abdel-Rahim, now one of Egypt's hottest properties. The song was released late last year.
But a spokesman for Abdel-Rahim denied the claim, saying the singer's composer, Islam Khalil, had penned the winning verse.
In a further twist, the head of Egypt's arts censorship bureau said the song originally ran "I Don't Like Israel", but Abdel-Rahim spiced it up at the request of the censor.
"Originally it was 'I don't like Israel,’ but I made a recommendation that they choose another word equal to the state of people's feelings," said Madkour Thabet, whose office has the power to ban tapes deemed politically or morally offensive.
Although the song gets no airplay on state television, it has scored with all classes of Egyptians, mixing politics with traditional working class music called "shaabi" (popular).
Abdel-Rahim's spokesman declined to give a figure for sales, saying it was difficult to estimate because of pirating.
A row has also erupted in Israel over Shaaban Abdel-Rahim’s anti-Israeli song. Last month, the Israeli daily newspaper “Yediot Ahronot” contained a page-long report entitled “The Most Recent Song in Egypt: I Hate Israel.” Semdar Beri, the editor of the Arab affairs at the newspaper, claimed that she met Abdel-Rahim in Cairo – Albawaba.com
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