Carols for the Islamists

This year Santa Claus comes to Egypt under very difficult social, religious and political circumstances. With all the changes taking place, it is hard not to remember people who lost their lives in the as yet still ongoing revolution. Many young people will not join their families for Christmas and to many the festivities will be far from sparkling.

But Christmas is also a time for reflection. Maybe it is an opportunity to think about challenges lying head of many people: concerns expressed by the Christian community in particular as well as the worries of many strata of Egyptian society, artists not excluded. With the rising influence of Islamists, many wonder about the future of arts in general and music in particular. Though we still do not know how the new parliament and its apparent Islamic majority will approach culture, some statements made by Islamist conservative representatives are troublesome to artists and intellectuals. Art can flourish only when freedom of thought and creativity are guaranteed, and there are signs that those values will be undermined by a new censorial apparatus in the making. What the future of music will be is a question that has to be yet answered…

Still, Christmas invites reflection, which will hopefully generate an analytical and pragmatic approach to the fears we are verbalizing, social and artistic limitations we are anticipating. Some artists feel that many cultural sectors were not reaching out to the general audience, and as such have become disconnected from society. It is high time that artists and musicians should unite to find and implement a solid and effective formula for attracting their audiences. There is a lot that both musical managers and musicians can do a lot to prove their artistic presence on the one hand, and reach to previously neglected audiences on the other hand.

No doubt there is much homework to be done by all artists. However there is also room for support by those audiences who are already interested in musical activities taking place in the country. Despite many discouraging political events in times of change, this is also a time to show that music finds valid interest today. Attending musical events should no longer be understood as a search for entertainment but as a statement which audiences need to make in order to protect and strengthen the presence of the arts that we fear will be subject to repression.


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