Opinion: Egyptian Singer Deserved Wrath of Protesters at NJ concert

When the Egyptian singer Tamer Hosny held a concert on Feb. 4 in Elizabeth, N.J., protesters went to the venue to express their displeasure with the timing of the event — just four days after the Port Said violence, in which more than 70 people were killed at a football game — and at what was seen as Hosny’s collaboration with government forces in Tahrir Square during the Egyptian revolution. In an impassioned editorial for Aramica, journalist Antoine Faisal writes:

As if humiliation at Tahrir Square was not enough for him, Tamer Hosny came to New Jersey to be humiliated again. He deserves it! For chivalry, magnanimity and patriotism are self-generated and cannot be sold or bought! Egypt officially mourns the victims of the Port Said massacre whose blood has not dried up yet and along comes the support of the whole Arab world — except for Tamer Hosny.

Hosny’s reputation was damaged by his actions before and during the Tahrir Square protests, Faisal explains:

The singer — who had tried to convince youths during Egypt’s January revolution to end their peaceful strike, calling on them to go back home — had spent six months in a military prison serving a light sentence for forging documents to escape military service, for which he should’ve been imprisoned for one year, while punishment was not executed in the second case.

Egyptians, the protesters said, did not forget his position when the revolution was won and how he came to reap the fruits. He was kicked out of Tahrir Square by revolutionaries. He then cried and apologized for what he did, saying, “I did not know. It was they who told me.”

Faisal asserts that money and touring seem to matter more than patriotism to the singer. Faisal blasts not just Hosny, but the concert organizer as well.

The concert was a big failure, as Aramica’s reporter noted, observing a state of embarrassment among those who came for the party, whose number did not exceed 450 people in a theater that fits 1,100.

Although we realize the loss that the concert’s organizer, Atef Kamal, experienced, this does not exempt him from blame in his persistence in holding the concert in such circumstances. If Hosny didn’t care about his people, it was rather Kamel, a member of the Egyptian community that we have known before as a man with pride, who should have taken the initiative and acted in a way that earns him respect in the eyes of his community.

Egyptian and Arabic protesters made their presence known at the Ritz Theatre, chanting “Raise your head up high, you’re Egyptian. Lower your head down low, Tamer Hosny,” in rhyming Arabic. They labeled him the “remnants’ singer” in reference to what’s left of the toppled Mubarak regime.

The protesters, who held a symbolic coffin, said the harsh reception Hosny received at his concert was because of its bad timing, as it did not take into consideration the fact that the Egyptian nation, as well as other Arab communities, were holding a national mourning over the martyrs of Port Said, who died only four days earlier.

“It’s shameful for an artist not to be responsible and committed to his people’s causes,” one protester said, “so that he could come and make money through concerts where young teenage girls fall at his feet to exaggerate the effect of his voice on people.”

The protest, which included other Arab nationals alongside Egyptians, kept growing, and some who had tickets for the concert joined in by tearing them apart. Some protesters said they paid $184 for the ticket, only to get into the theater and chant against Hosny and military rule.

The demonstration put Hosny in an awkward position when he arrived at the venue, Faisal writes:

Hosny, 37, who could not enter in fear of the rage of protesters, had to circle the area by car, accompanied by police, for three hours. Getting desperate for protesters to leave, as they were getting larger in number, he had to go through the rear entrance normally used for collecting garbage. His concert, which was supposed to begin at 8 in the evening, started at 10.

After the concert, Egyptians in New Jersey reworked one of the lines from a famous song of Hosny’s. They will now remember the lyric as “Everytime I see you, I would like to–to–spit on you.”

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