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Saturday, August 30, 2008 

Shakira to defend Arabs in a new song

Columbian-Lebanese singer Shakira is writing a duet to defend Arabs.

She is teaming up with Arab-American singer Dania Youssef. Dania was born in America and sings in English. But she did study Arabic music for three years. On this song, her vocals will be in Arabic - and her words will be written by Egyptian composer Mohamed Saad.

Shakira visited Lebanon for the first time in 2003 and said it felt like a homecoming. She doesn't speak Arabic, and considers herself Columbian - rarely mentioning her Lebanese roots.

The song, which is an attempt to change the image of Arabs as terrorists, will be out by the end of the year. Dania is also recording her first Arabic album.

One of the factors in building western popular pressure for sanctions against apartheid south africa was the taking up of the cause by reggae singers and rappers - seriously. Of course, the Arabs don't have such a long and well-established cultural presence in the West as blacks, but I've often thought of the need for musicians sympathetic to Palestine, for instance, to make a concerted and organised effort not only to educate their audiences on this but also to make the cause 'cool.' Sadly, cool is important.

A good start has been made by the Free the P CD, with Immortal Technique and others. Jackie Salloum's film Slingshot Hip Hop also helps.

You're absolutely right Qunfuz. I know she will get a lot of criticism for trivialising the issue, and some will ask what gives a belly dancer the right to talk about politics. But it is exactly because she is a belly dancer, and not a stuffy high-brow academic that she should talk about these issues.

It brings to mind another issue which I still haven't figured out the answer to - should Camdenistas be wearing the Kuffieya?

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