Banned Egyptian singer appeals to president

Egyptian singer Sherine Abdel Wahab
Updated 24 March 2019
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Banned Egyptian singer appeals to president

  • Hossam Habib said that Sherine will not appear before the investigation on Wednesday because she had not done anything to deserve it

CAIRO: In her first media appearance since her singing ban, Sherine Abdel Wahab broke down and appealed to President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi after the Syndicate of Musical Professions banned her from working while they investigate her for allegedly abusing Egypt’s reputation.
Lawyer Samir Sabri filed a complaint against the Egyptian performer and said that she had used festivals and foreign parties to speak ill of the country.
He explained in his statement that he also attached a CD containing what was said by Sherine in a concert in Bahrain.
“Egypt is working to restore its global cultural role as well as organize international festivals and conferences to encourage investments. It is known that art plays an effective role and as an artist as ambassador to this country, Sherine Abdel Wahab presented Egypt in a low-profile manner during a concert in Bahrain. During the concert, she said ‘Now I can speak in comfort, for if I did in Egypt, I’d go to prison.’“
Sherine apologized during her telephone conversation with a famous talk show about the incident on March 14.
She said that she did not mean freedom of expression, but that there are people who are “waiting for her to make a mistake.”
The Syndicate of Music Professions especially did not defend her, and instead quickly issued a ban on her working.
Dr. Hossam Lotfi, Sherine’s lawyer, stressed in statements to Arab News that what his client is accused of was taken out of context by those waiting for her to make a mistake, which is unacceptable.
He added there is no doubt about her love and her loyalty to the country, and her appreciation for all the efforts made by her government and its president to push Egypt to the position it deserves in the Arab world and internationally.
He argued that the lawyer who brought the suit was known for always filing suits against well-known figures in society, purely motivated by increasing his fame.
The board of directors of the Syndicate of Music Professions, headed by artist Hani Shaker, decided to ban Sherine from singing and investigate her on March 27.
“The decision to stop Sherine was only made after the union received numerous complaints from Egyptians at home and abroad, which is detrimental to the national security of Egypt,” Tariq Mortada, legal adviser to the union, told Arab News.
“Sherine has said a number of abusive things before, including when she said in jest: ‘Drink natural water so you do not get schistosomiasis, in reference to when someone asked her to sing her song Mashrebtesh Men Nilha.’“
Mortada said that the issue of insulting Egypt has taken its course in the Egyptian courts.
He said Sherine is a great star and a very important artist, but she harms her talent when she speaks inappropriately of Egypt.
On the other hand, the Egyptian artist Hossam Habib — husband of Sherine — expressed in press statements his deep sadness at the decision of the syndicate stopping his wife from singing.
He said that Sherine will not appear before the investigation on Wednesday because she had not done anything to deserve it.


Bollywood’s newest A-lister tackles caste, sexual violence

Updated 27 June 2019
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Bollywood’s newest A-lister tackles caste, sexual violence

  • It is rare for Bollywood to give top billing to two of India’s weightiest subjects
  • The film’s title refers to the section of India’s constitution which outlaws discrimination

MUMBAI: A young man with erectile dysfunction, a pianist who pretends to be blind, and a sperm donor raking in the cash: unconventional roles have catapulted Ayushmann Khurrana into Bollywood’s A-league.
Now the 34-year-old, one of the most popular actors in Hindi cinema at the moment, is set to tackle two of India’s weightiest subjects — caste discrimination and sexual violence.
Khurrana plays an upper-caste police officer assigned to investigate the rape and hanging of a low-caste woman in “Article 15,” which hits screens across India on Friday.
Such cases are depressingly common in the pages of India’s newspapers, but it is rare for Bollywood — renowned for its cheery song and dance routines — to give them top billing.
“This practice has been going on for decades. With a film like ‘Article 15’, the discussion about caste discrimination comes into the mainstream,” Khurrana said.
The film’s title refers to the section of India’s constitution which outlaws discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex and place of birth.
The movie — directed by Anubhav Sinha — drew inspiration from several true stories, including a 2014 gang-rape and the 2016 flogging of a low-caste Dalit family.
It is a departure from Khurrana’s usual roles in family comedies, and Sinha was initially skeptical about casting the actor as police officer Ayan Ranjan.
“Ayushmann is aware of his branding as a family audience, which is why at first even I could not see him in this part. But I was stoked by his keenness and conviction for this subject matter,” Sinha said.
Khurrana began his career in theater, moving onto radio and reality TV before debuting in Bollywood in 2012 in the romantic comedy “Vicky Donor” where he played the sperm donor.
He gained widespread acclaim for “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan” (Beware of Marriage) in 2017 before notching two of the biggest hits of 2018, a year when several industry superstars flopped at the box office.
In crime thriller “Andhadhun” (The Blind Melody) he played a pianist who is the only witness to a murder; in “Badhaai Ho” (Congratulations), a shocked 25-year-old trying to deal with the news that his middle-aged parents are expecting their third child.
“After the success of the last few years I feel able to make courageous choices and choose radical cinema,” Khurrana said in a phone interview.
“The films I am doing are about content, credibility and respect,” he added.
Khurrana’s stock is on the rise outside of India too. “Andhadhun” recently grossed $43 million in China to become the third-highest grossing Indian film there ever.
He believes streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime are increasing the reach of Indian films that break the usual Bollywood mold, and in turn spread his popularity, among India’s vast diaspora.
Khurrana returns to type for his next two offerings: “Bala,” where he will play a man trying to cope with premature balding, and “Dream Girl,” both due out this year.
He will then shoot alongside Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, before playing a homosexual man from a socially conservative family in “Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan.”
Khurrana hopes the latter movie will help change attitudes in India, where gay sex was illegal until September last year.
“(A)... cruel bias against homosexuality still exists,” he said.
“A subject like this needs a mainstream actor and certain tonality to reach a larger population and start a conversation,” the actor added.