Downtown Cairo building hosts virtual concerts and Qur’anic recitations

An artist uses a projector to present Qur’anic recitations by an Islamic scholar on a building wall in the El-Mounira area in Cairo. (Photo/Supplied)
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Updated 20 June 2020

Downtown Cairo building hosts virtual concerts and Qur’anic recitations

  • Downtown Cairo building hosts virtual concerts and Qur’anic recitations

CAIRO: An Egyptian artist is using the back wall of a building in central Cairo to showcase virtual concerts and recitations of the Qur’an to break the monotony of the curfew imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The virtual concerts, which use a projector, begin at 8 p.m. every night in the El-Mounira area as the streets of the city fall silent due to the curfew.

The curfew, which started in mid-March, triggered the idea of the virtual concerts to experimental filmmaker and artist Mohamed Allam. The idea did not come to fruition until mid-June.

“I have tools, like the projector, and I know how to use them,” Allam said. “So I thought, why not take the projector to the street instead of keeping it within the walls of my home. I thought why not share this experience with the citizens of Egypt,” said Allam, who has been living in downtown Cairo for 11 years and has become familiar with the district.

“Most of those who live in the area are elderly people, and since the spread of the coronavirus they have not left their homes. As the sun sets they usually go out to their balconies and so I decided to offer them Umm Kulthum concerts,” Allam said, referring to Egypt and the Arab world’s most famous female singer who died in 1975.

The building opposite Allam’s house is free of residents, making it an ideal location for his projector because it does not disturb anyone.

As well as Umm Kulthum concerts, Allam presents Qur’anic recitations by some of Egypt’s most renowned sheikhs, most prominently Sheikh Abdel- Basit Abdel-Samad.

SPEEDREAD

The virtual concerts, which use a projector, begin at 8 p.m. every night in the El-Mounira area as the streets of the city fall silent due to the curfew.

Although Allam’s project has been met with encouragement, he admits that he is yet to receive the opinions of his neighbors. However, he said the fact they go to their balconies and stay there throughout the virtual concerts indicates that they are enjoying them, which has led to him continuing the shows.

“I saw several of my neighbors go to their balconies with the start of the virtual concert. I also started live streaming the shows on my Facebook page,” Allam said.

Videos of his idea shared by his friends have reached tens of thousands of views.

“I read almost all the comments, and one of them asked: ‘Why would someone force me to watch something in particular? What if I dislike Umm Kulthum or one of the sheikhs being showcased?’ I respect his point of view but thinking about my project, its advantages outweigh its disadvantages,” Allam said.

Still, Allam is worried about the legal ramifications of his idea since projecting the images can be construed as an inconvenience or an annoyance to some residents living in the neighborhood.

At the same time he is thinking of ways to advance the project. He is searching for friends who live in nearby buildings to test the idea and see how people of different backgrounds will receive it.

He believes that breaking the daily routine of life under curfew frees people from feeling restrained within the walls of their households. The artist explained that the idea is not solely his, and encouraged others to take it up and expand on it.

According to Allam, the goal is to break the monotony of the curfew and produce something creative.

 


Bollywood megastar Bachchan hospitalized with COVID-19

Updated 11 July 2020

Bollywood megastar Bachchan hospitalized with COVID-19

  • Affectionately known as "Big B", Bachchan shot to stardom in the early 1970s on the back of roles in huge hit movies such as "Zanjeer" and "Sholay"
  • Millions of Indians revere Bachchan like royalty, hanging on his every word and seeking his blessings

MUMBAI: Bollywood veteran megastar Amitabh Bachchan, 77, has tested positive for COVID-19 and been admitted to hospital in his hometown of Mumbai, he said Saturday on Twitter, calling for those close to him to get tested.
"I have tested CoviD positive .. shifted to Hospital," Bachchan wrote, saying his family and staff had already been tested and were awaiting their results.
"All that have been in close proximity to me in the last 10 days are requested to please get themselves tested!" he added.

His son Abhishek Bachchan, 44, said in a tweet minutes later that he had also tested positive.

The Bollywood actors were admitted to Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai, India's financial and entertainment hub, and several other members of the high-profile family were tested for the virus.

Affectionately known as "Big B", Bachchan shot to stardom in the early 1970s on the back of roles in huge hit movies such as "Zanjeer" and "Sholay".
His films still open to packed cinemas across India, but his new movie - comedy-drama "Gulabo Sitabo" - was released on Amazon's streaming service due to the coronavirus restrictions.
Bollywood recently resumed film shoots after a months-long hiatus following the imposition of a nationwide lockdown in India in late March.
But actors over the age of 65, such as Bachchan, are banned from set due to their vulnerability to the virus.
India's nationwide coronavirus toll rose Saturday to 820,916 cases - the third highest in the world - with 22,123 deaths.
Health workers have complained about severe staff shortages, with some senior doctors and nurses avoiding frontlines because of their risk of catching the virus.
As the death toll climbs, critics say the country is not testing enough - leaving many infections undiagnosed.
Millions of Indians revere Bachchan like royalty, hanging on his every word, seeking his blessings and congregating outside his Mumbai bungalow every year on October 11, his birthday.
The doyen of Bollywood is a keen user of Twitter, where he has 43 million followers, and his career has branched into television presenting, business and politics, as well as countless commercial endorsements.
Early in his acting life, Bachchan earned his reputation as India's "angry young man" for portraying violent heroes fighting an unjust system and injecting a new aggressive element into Bollywood movies, which had previously consisted of polite romances.
After some lean years, Bachchan bounced back spectacularly, largely due to his stint as host for the Indian version of the popular TV game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?", which revived his artistic and financial fortunes.
According to local media, he was being treated at Mumbai's Nanavati hospital.