Egyptian Singer Azza Sings for Palestine in Vienna

Egyptian dissident and singer Azza Balbaa came to Vienna to sing at an event commemorating 60 years of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe), to sing for the Palestinian resistance and for Iraq before a great part of the Arab community in Vienna. Mary Attia from the Egyptian Women Organization and Dr. Georg Nicola from the Palestinian community in Vienna had also invited the resistance poet Ahmad Fuad Negm to come to Vienna. Negem was not able to come to Vienna because of unstated reasons – probably intimidation from the Egyptian government. The poet Negm has already spent 18 years of his life in Egyptian jails because of his political views, he is now in his eighties.

Azza Balbaa has also been jailed several times by the Egyptian government for her political views, which she expresses in songs: first time for two years in 1978, and then several times for some months in 1979, 1981. Azza entertained the audience with songs about the Israeli hunger blockade against the inhabitants of Gaza, about the murderous occupation of Iraq, and about the problematic political conditions in Syria and Egypt.

According to Azza, the Egyptian government has forbidden the performance of her songs in any media in Egypt, on radio, national TV, even in theaters. Azza who is also an actress, has seen all works in which she has had roles censored: no producer can risk engaging her, as it almost certainly will result in their work being banished as well. According to Azza there is no official prohibition against her or her work, but the results are all the same: it is impossible for her to find singing engagements on either on radio or national TV.

Azza told me that she had started singing songs about Palestine at the age of 10, and that Lebanese singer Fayrooz has always been an inspiration to her. She said that the issue of Palestine had turned in a part of her blood and spirit even before she became an adult. At school she would sing songs like “Jerusalem, the old City” and “Jerusalem, the bud among Cities”, later she would sing the poems of the revolutionary poet Ahmad Negm, as well as the melodies of composer of Sheikh Imam.

The Egyptian Government forbids singing for Palestine
Azza told me that, at the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, the Egyptian government had asked musicians to sing for Palestine. About 15 artists looked among their songs for appropriate compositions, and sang, but after three days of singing these songs for Palestine, the Egyptian government sent out a circular with strict orders forbidding the performance of the songs which it had ordered to be performed, as well as of any other songs praising Palestine.

Azza sings for the Palestinian Resistance at Nakba Memorial Event in Vienna
The words of the song were written by the poet Ahmad Fuad Negm, the music composed by Sheikh Imam, the song was performed by Azza Balbaa. Attempted translations from Arabic follow, due to the very symbolic nature of the songs they are probably imprecise.

O Palestinians, who the British occupation threw under the Israeli occupation
The Zionist killed the peaceful pigeons under your protection in your homeland,
(The Zionist killed your innocent people in your homeland)

O Palestinians,
I want to come to Palestine, holding the fire in my hands, and together with your hands,
(To resist,) against the head of the snake (against the occupation)

And to end Hulagos faith (the injust Israeli occupation)
Your forlornness began so long ago, (60 years of Nakba, Catastrophe)
And, the desert,
Groaned because of the refugees and the victims, (life in the exile at the refugee camps)
And, the land yearned to be irrigated by the farmers,
(The Palestinian land yearns for its real Palestinian owners)
And, your revolution is a fundamental goal,
(the resistance of the Palestinians is logical)
And, the victory is your first step,
(Blessing to your first steps of resistance)

O Palestinians, who the British occupation threw under the Israeli occupation
The Zionist killed the peaceful pigeons under your protection in your homeland,
(The Zionist killed the innocent people in your homeland)

O Palestinians,
I want to come to Palestine, holding the fire in my hands, and together with your hands,
(to resist), against the head of the snake, (against the occupation)
And
To end Hulagos faith, (the injust Israeli occupation)

O Palestinians, your revolution is logical.
By gun (revolution) you impose a new life
(You achieve liberation) and,
Just as the way of the revolution is so long,
The continuing steps of resistance is the only way to save your life,
(The continuing resistance is the only solution towards liberation)

O Palestinians, (remember and take advantages of) the
Vietnamese good news, who achieved Victory,
against hundred thousands of invaders
And lightened the candle, and defeated the Americans.
I wish you the same Victory in Palestine.

O Palestinians, who the British occupation threw under the Israeli occupation
The Zionist killed the peaceful pigeons under your protection in your homeland,
(The Zionist killed your innocent people in your homeland)

O Palestinians,
I want to come to Palestine, holding the fire in my hands, and together with your hands,
(To resist,) against the head of the snake (against the occupation)
And to end Hulagos faith (the injust Israeli occupation)

Azza Sings for Bagdad at the Palestinian Nakba Memorial Event

Bagdad the Castle of Lions,
The Castle of Glory and Eternity,
Bagdad, the Sun Forehead for Existence

Bagdad, I heard on the day of your dawn
The glow of your fire blinds
The standard of the repeated Victory, return to Al-Rashid square
Bagdad the Castle of Lions
The castle of Glory and Eternity.

The words of this last song are part of a song by middle east star singer Um Kulthoum.

1 comment to Egyptian Singer Azza Sings for Palestine in Vienna

  • Kawther Salam – Egyptian Singer Azza Sings for Palestine in Vienna…

    Egyptian dissident and singer Azza Balbaa came to Vienna to sing at an event commemorating 60 years of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe), to sing for the Palestinian resistance and for Iraq before a great part of the Arab community in Vienna. Mary At…

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