CAIRO: Egyptian singer Shaaban Abdel Rahim, best known for his controversial hit song “I Hate Israel,” died on Tuesday aged 62.
The star passed away in a Cairo military hospital after suffering from reported complications to a medical condition. His funeral was held in Sayeda Nafisa Mosque in the Egyptian capital.
Abdel Rahim’s last appearance was at a concert in Saudi Arabia as part of the Riyadh Season of events. He was wheelchair-bound and unable to stand for any length of time, saying he had slipped and fallen last month, breaking his leg.
Turki Al Sheikh, chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA), shared a video on his Twitter account of Abdel Rahim singing.
The lyrics to his landmark 2000 song “I Hate Israel” caused much controversy and are still popular among his Egyptian fans today.
The tune also played a part in the ousting of former Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa. In his 2017 autobiography, “My Testimony,” Moussa said what drew his attention to the song was the backlash and objections from Israelis to it.
Abdel Rahim was born in 1957 in Al-Sharabia in Cairo. He later went on to release a large number of records which grew popular among Egyptians, including one called “I Will Stop Smoking.”
His work in the entertainment industry was not limited to music with him also appearing in several movies including the 2001 film “A Citizen, A Detective and A Thief” directed by Daoud Abdel Sayed. He also dabbled in theater and hosted a number of TV shows.
Despite his portfolio of musical and cinematic works, Abdel Rahim garnered much of his popularity, if not notoriety, from his choice of clothing, viewed by many as eccentric. He often wore garish colors which were frowned upon in conservative Egyptian society and which made him the subject of much mockery.