Fairouz fans in Cairo protest singing ban after copyright dispute

Tamim Elyan
4 Min Read

CAIRO: As songs of Lebanese chanteuse Fairouz played in the background, hundreds of her fans held a solidarity protest Monday evening in Cairo against a court ruling banning her from singing in Beirut.

The Cairo protest at the Sawy Culture Wheel was planned to coincide with demonstrations in Beirut and Australia where fans voiced their objection to the singing ban on Fairouz, put in place as a result of a copyright dispute with heirs of the two Rahbani brothers who wrote and composed her entire oeuvre.

Assy El-Rahbani (also Fairouz’s late husband) and his brother Mansour co-wrote and composed all her songs. The Rahbni Brothers and Fairouz produced more than 15 plays during the 1970s and 80s as well as hundreds of songs that have become classics of Arabic music.

Fairouz was banned from performing one of her classic operettas "Ya’eesh Ya’eesh" (Long Live, Long Live) in Casino Lebanon after the venue’s administration received a judicial warning from Mansour Rahbani’s sons, banning her from singing their pieces in public before settling financial matters over the revenues of her performances.

The Rahbani heirs on both sides are demanding an equal share of revenues from Fairouz’s performances, and the case was eventually brought to Lebanese courts which ruled in favor of Mansour Rahbani’s heirs.

In Beirut, Fairouz’s fans gathered in front of the national museum and were joined by Arab artists and public figures, holding up banners carrying quotes from her most memorable songs, protesting the court ruling.

Cairo’s solidarity protest was sponsored by the El Sawy Culture Wheel founder Mohamed El-Sawy, with the participation of Iraqi musician Naseer Shamma.

El-Sawy told Daily News Egypt that the crisis has shown Fairouz “people’s support around the Arab world and their love and appreciation for her work."

"The protest may not have any empirical significance but we are sending Fairouz a message that we love her and we are supporting her in this crisis," he added.

The protest began with a statement read by Wael Al-Semary, a journalist at Al-Youm Al-Sabe’s and organizer of the solidarity campaign.

"We are aware that the Rahbanis are the owners of the copyrights but we were disturbed by the way the dispute reached courtrooms and the way Fairouz was mistreated, ignoring her value and heritage," read the statement.

Al-Semary announced the formation of a global association of Fairouz fans which would pool membership fees to buy the copyrights to the disputed pieces.

A group of Shamma’s students from the House of Oud performed some of Fairouz’s classical pieces.

"The Rahbani family and Fairouz are a great value that has added so much to the heritage of modern Arabic music; we urge them to work out their disputes in a friendly manner away from the media," Shamma said.



Wael Al-Semary, a journalist at Al-Youm Al-Sabe’s daily and organizer of the pro-Fairouz solidarity campaign.


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