L’Angar Festival in Tunis – The struggle for freedom of expression continues

L’angar Festival, Tunis December 2013

Since the Tunisian revolution in 2011 progressive youth movements have used creative means as a non-violent tool to push back the every day oppression from the security apparatus and the new Islamist regime.

On December 14-15 2013 the Tunisian activist radio Asso Chaabi and the Danish Non-profit organization Turning Tables organized the biggest hip hop and electronica event ever in the Middle East and North-Africa. The line-up for L’angar Festival was packed with young political conscious artists from Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, Morocco, Denmark and Algeria that was invited to spit fire and brimstone in the struggle for regional freedom of expression.

Watch Short Documentary about the festival

Due to interference from the Tunisian Ministries of Interior and Culture all artists from Syria, Lebanon and Palestine was denied visas last minute and the festival was one breath away from cancellation. L’Angar Festival took place despite obstructions from the authorities, the venue owners and start up errors from the organizers. The out come was far from the original blueprint but over two days festival showcased more than 20 Tunisian rappers and progressive acts from Palestinian Boikutt, Algerian Youss, Marrocan Moby Dick and Danish Den Sorte Skole.

The Struggle for freedom of expression continues…

Voice of the Voiceless

Where authorities turn a deaf ear to the concerns of the people music fills in the bureaucratic vacuum by being the voice of the voiceless” 

“Where political leaders remained arrogant and adamantly anti people, Gospel musicians has managed to mobilize people as a conscientising tool for political change“.

Dr. Gadziro Gwekwerere –  University in Exile Scholar-in-Residence at The New School,New York

The article “Gospel Music as a Mirror of the Political and Socio-Economic Developments in Zimbabwe, 1980-2007” by the Dr. Gwekwerere gives an account of how music has been a powerful agent for societal change in Zimbabwe. The key findings of her study resonates the main objectives of the Turning Tables project about creating social empowerment and giving voice to the hopes, dreams and grievances of marginalized urban youth in Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia, Cambodia and Haiti through the creation of schools for electronical music production, DJ’ing and rap.

Music matters…


Thourough account of the Arab hip hop movement before and after the Uprisings of 2011

“One of the biggest mistakes of this revolution… was that we allowed its political aspects to overshadow the cultural and social aspects. We have unleashed a torrent of art, music and creativity , and we don’t celebrate or enjoy it, or even promote it… In our arrogance and hubris we assumed that people will change by themselves, that they will act right… Sorry everyone, we were arrogant and idealistic. Forgive us.” (Mohammed Salem, PM Candidate Egypt)

Read the full article including the role of Turning Tables

The Voice of the Streets concert succeeds despite military crackdown

The biggest ever line up of Arabic rappers and the spirit and resilience of the Cairo youth made Friday November 4th a night to remember despite censorship and harassment from the Egyptian military regime.

The Voice of the Streets brought together political dissident rappers from Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan on Egyptian soil in order to remind the world that the struggle for freedom of artistic expression and speech in the Middle East has just begun.  The organizers from Turntables in the Camps and Immortal Entertainment had been constantly reminded of the need for change in Egypt throughout the organization process, due to the persistence of corruption within the regime and the tight military control of all public events. But it was not until the very hour of the concert that the full extent of regime ruthlessness and censorship reared its ugly head.

At the scheduled hour of the start of the event the Interior Minister ordered the Gezirah Youth Club in Cairo who had lent its facilities to the organizers to shut the gates and cancel the concert. Thousands of people had gathered as a result of the successes of the seven day promotional campaign, where participating rappers used guerrilla freestyle rap spots in the streets of Cairo to spread word of the free show. When news of the large size of the gathering reached the military, along with the fact that a large group of wounded people from the revolution were invited as well, they closed the venue and threatened to send in troops.

Acting swiftly to the events on the ground, the organizers and rappers immediately left the venue and told the crowd that the concert would take place in elsewhere, no matter the cost.  A local entrepreneur provided a sound system and a roof as a stage and more than 500 people rushed across Cairo to make sure that The Voice of the Street would not be silenced.

In the end the concert took place. Hopefully the events of November 4th will be a reminder to us all that freedom of speech and artistic expression can never be taken for granted in a region where such human rights are still precariously fragile.

Turntables in the Camps and Immortal Entertainment would like to express our admiration and gratitude to the remarkable people that helped realize the biggest ever Arab Hip Hop even when the odds were stacked against us. We remain dedicated to fight for the Voice of the Street in the Middle East. We would also like to thank the Danish Center for Culture and Development for funding this endevour.

TiC and Immortal Entertainment behind huge non-profit concert in Cairo

“The Voice of the Streets” takes place in the Gezira Youth Center in Cairo on November 4 and  brings together key dissident rappers from Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Palestine for the first time. The purpose of this non-profit event is to show the importance of the voice of the street, and remind everyone that the struggle for freedom and peace in the countries mentioned above is far from over. The event is presented by the NGO Turntables in the Camps, the regional Immortal Entertainment and sponsored by the Danish center for Culture and Development (DCCD).

The line-up is:

El General ( Tunisia ) – Was demonstrating from day one and made the first anti-regime rap, that helped to launch both the Tunisian revolution and later the Arab Spring.

MC Swat ( Libya) – Made the first anti-Gadaffi rap and had to flee the security forces to save his life.

Boikutt/Ramallah Underground ( Palestine) – Front man in the legendary Ramallah Underground crew, that is equivalent to the Wu-Tang Clan in the Middle East.

FeesDeeb (Egypt ) – A main figure on Tahrir square, this investment banker turned rapper, was on the square demonstrating and performing every day until the Mubarak regime fell in Egypt.

Amin (Egypt) – Philosophical rapper focusing on how to turn the energy of the young Arab revolution into a better tomorrow

Arabian Knightz (Egypt) – This massive 15 man crew created one of the anthems to the Egyptian revolution and are still very active in the struggle for freedom.

Malikah ( Lebanon) – Female Rapper who is fighting for women’s place in Arab hip hop. She has been performing all over the Middle East

Edd ( Lebanon/Palestine ) – Palestinian rapper representing the huge refugee diaspora in Lebanon and Jordan.

 

The concert is free and will take place from 5pm to 9pm.

 

For press related questions please contact mfj@turntablesinthecamps.org

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