Gaza’s last rap artist says Hamas ban will force him to leave

Many of Ibrahim Ghoneim’s fellow rappers have given up or left to escape the restrictions in Gaza.
Updated 17 April 2018
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Gaza’s last rap artist says Hamas ban will force him to leave

  • Gaza has been likened to an open-air prison because of a decade-long blockade
  • Most artistic expression in Gaza takes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as its subject

GAZA CITY: Ibrahim Ghoneim might be the only rap artist left in Gaza, but a ban on his concerts by the ruling Hamas party means the rapper’s sole arena is his bedroom.
Hamas, which seized control in 2007, deems Ghoneim’s performances incompatible with traditional Arab culture, so the 26-year-old makes music in his bedroom-turned-studio. Meanwhile, many of his fellow rappers have given up or left to escape the restrictions.
“Rap is a way of life through which I express my opinions and dreams,” Ghoneim told Arab News. “But it is not considered a popular art in Arab societies generally. I challenged this and continue to do so. I feel free when I sing rap.”
The rapper’s recent attempts to perform in public led to his arrest.
Gaza has been likened to an open-air prison because of a decade-long blockade. The jobless rate is more than 40 percent amid a power struggle between Hamas and the Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has cut funds to the radical party.
Ghoneim tackles sensitive social issues in his music, including religious extremism, as well as romance and Palestinian national songs. Most artistic expression in Gaza takes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as its subject.
Mohammed Assaf, who won first place in the television show “Arab Idol,” is one of the best-known Palestinian pop singers. Other make their own efforts to create music in the absence of official institutions and backing. Hamas has only supported bands that sing religious songs.
Palestinian youth is divided between those who prefer songs by Arab singers, such as Assaf, and others who listen only to religious music.
Nevertheless, Ghoneim is proud of his album, “25 Steps,” which he finished producing a month ago at his own expense. He would love to perform a concert to launch it.
“It’s a work of art that I’ve been producing for years in cooperation with a group of musicians and technicians, and, finally, this work is ready,” he said.
“But, unfortunately, I cannot perform my songs at a public concert.”
In February, the rapper booked a hall and invited an audience, but 72 hours before he was due to sing, the hall owners told him they had to cancel following pressure from the police. In the past, he has taken part in more than 100 concerts abroad and at social and national festivities in Gaza.
When granting permits to organize concerts in closed halls, Palestinian police require segregation between males and females, and no dancing.
Ghoneim lives with his parents, sometimes doing odd jobs in advertising to make money. He is thinking of moving to Morocco and hopes to achieve the same success enjoyed by his hero Eminem, the US rap star.
“I struggled a lot to stay here. I tried a lot, produced and continued my work. I spent a lot of money on this art, but now I cannot anymore,” he said. “I will be leaving soon. I will search for a place where I feel more freedom, to add more, and come back as an Arab and international star.”


Police visit ‘Saturday Night Live’ star after Instagram post

Updated 16 December 2018
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Police visit ‘Saturday Night Live’ star after Instagram post

  • Earlier this month, the comedian wrote on Instagram that he has spoken about borderline personality disorder from which he says he suffers
  • A police spokesman declined to say where officers met with Ariana Grande’s ex-fiance on Saturday

NEW YORK: New York City police were concerned about Pete Davidson after he wrote “I don’t want to be on this earth anymore” on Instagram. And they visited the “Saturday Night Live” star to make sure he was OK.
A police spokesman declined to say where officers met with Ariana Grande’s ex-fiance on Saturday. But his Instagram posting was deleted and NBC did not cancel its live show.
What alarmed Davidson’s fans and authorities was the tone of the entertainer’s post: “I’m doing my best to stay here for you but I actually don’t know how much longer I can last. All I’ve ever tried to do was help people. Just remember I told you so.” He added a heart emoji.
Social media erupted with words of love for the 25-year-old comedian and native New Yorker who first appeared on “Saturday Night Live” in 2014. And his name is trending on Twitter.
One admirer tweeted “hang in there. There is a lot of help out here. Surrender to some love ... I’m praying for you Pete. I’ve been there. It gets better.”
Earlier this month, Davidson wrote on Instagram that he has spoken about borderline personality disorder from which he says he suffers, “and being suicidal publicly only in the hopes that it will help bring awareness and help kids like myself who don’t want to be on this earth.
“No matter how hard the Internet or anyone tries to make me kill myself. I won’t. I’m upset I even have to say this.”
Davidson and Grande were engaged in June, but broke up earlier this fall.
In November, Davidson apologized for mocking the appearance of a veteran who lost an eye in Afghanistan.
He said Lt. Com. Dan Crenshaw, now a congressman-elect from Texas, “deserves all the respect in the world.”
On SNL’s “Weekend Update” segment , Davidson was joined by Crenshaw, a Navy SEAL.
Davidson had mocked Crenshaw a week earlier, saying viewers might be surprised he’s “not a hit man in a porno movie.”
Crenshaw, a Republican who won a House seat in the 2018 midterm elections, took some joking shots at Davidson. And when his cellphone rang, the tone was “Breathin” by Grande.
Crenshaw got serious at the end, encouraging civilians and veterans to connect and paying tribute to heroes like Davidson’s father, a firefighter who died in the 9/11 terror attacks.