Shaabola: Egypt’s political barometer

Every country seems to have at least one person like Shaaban Abd al-Rahim – a.k.a. Shaabola: The guy nobody really likes, but who doesn’t seem to go away. Shaabola is a laundryman turned singer. His first great success was a recording of the song “I hate Israel”, which was a hit at the time, mostly because it was the first time that such open opposition to Israel was heard (and allowed) in Egypt.

After this, he developed into a political commentator of sorts. Being illiterate himself, Shaabola has a writer, Islam Khalil, who prepares lyrics and occassionally explains them to him. Most often these lyrics are political and infused with words from the ‘ashwa’iyyat, the slums of Cairo, where most of his fans live. The nature of the songs follows the tides of Egyptian politics. At one moment he may be praising Mubarak, the next he will tout the cause of the Islamists and from there he will morph into a Sisi afficionado with great ease. The musical quality of his songs is not what makes Shaabola an interesting figure. Rythm and melody are almost indistinguishable between them – just compare this pro-sisi song with the one that is translated below about Erdogan. What is interesting about him is that his complete lack of ideology and his (writer’s) unworried use of popular tropes make him the perfect barometer for Egyptian popular feeling.

Face it, Erdogan


Face it, Erdogan. If your people stand up against you

That will be the end of the madness

Here, you have messed up everything around you


Nobody is competing with you in lying, so why do you shut up?

You sweety, you made us look at you

You showed yourself to us, now what are you gonna do?


You stuck your nose in a lot of business that wasn’t yours

Entered into something you had nothing to do with

While forgetting your own people


From the first day it was clear that you were perfidious, you can’t be trusted

Erdogan, you traitor

You lapdog of the American


There, you set up ISIS and supplied it with your hand

They devastated Iraq and Syria

And now there coming after you


The whole world is in danger and the people now the lier

You and America and Qatar

Are the triumvirate of terrorism


What do you mean alliance, yuck, that’s a game, they’re just looking after themselves

Get lost, you baby

This is Egypt, people and army


You let the genie out of the bottle, you kept nurturing it

You showed it to us, Dodo

Now how will you get it back in


You gave Obama a call and told him to follow you

But he is the one who pushed you

And in the end will let you down


Talk to Tamim (Bin Hamad al-Thani) over ‘Viper’, your partner in crime

Or talk to Aljazeera

To let them make up a story


You fell in the lap of Israel and the Lobby

Tomorrow they will pull you by a rope

And you will be their puppy


You let loose the police dogs on your own people you, dimwit

You made them cry out Sisi

For crying out loud


… a lot in Egypt. We hated the look of you

And Sisi because he is polite

Did not want to speak to you

And the four fingers that you held up

The people will put them

All in your…mouth


You really made us angry and forgot that we are Egypt

The cradle of all civilization

History, the crossing (of the Suez Canal in 1973) and the victory


Egypt, January and June, Egypt, outside her there’s nothing

Egypt of whom Sisi said

I would die so she can live


That’s enough now

إشرب يا أردوغان


إشرب يا أردوغان أن شعبك قام عليك

دي أخيرة الجنان

أهيه ولعت من حوالك


ياللي محادش بينافسك في الكدب، سكت ليه

فرجنا يا حلو نفسك

ورينا حتعمل أي؟


كتير حشرت نفسك، في إللي إنت ما لكش فيه

دخلت في شأن غيرك

وشعبك إنت ناسيه


من يومك وإنت باين غدار ما لكش أمان

يا أردوغان يا خاين

يا بتاع الأمريكان


أديك عملت داعش وصرفت عليها بأديك

خربو العراق وسوريا

وخلاص داخلين عايك


العالم كله في خطر والناس عارفو الكداب

وإنت وأمريكا وقطر

مثالث  الإرهاب


تحالف أي يا أخه، ده لعبة  وأكل عيش

إلعب بعيد يا نغة

دي  مصر شعب وجيش


جبت عفريت بإيدك وفضلت تعلفه

فرجنا بس يا دودو

إزاي حتصرفه


إدي لإوباما رنة  وقله  يلحقك

ما هو ده إللي زقك

وفي الآخر زحلقك


كلم تميم على viber شريكك في المشروع

أو كلم الجزيرة

تتفبرك الموضوع


نزلت لهم طب لإسرائل واللوبي

بكرا يجروك بحبل

تبقى زاي البوبي


سايب كلاب بوليسي على شعبك يا غبي

خلتهم قالوا يا سيسي

إلحقنا والنبي


كتير في مصر كرهنا منظرك

والسيسي عشان مؤدب

مش راض يعبرك


وحياة الأربع صوابع إللي إنت رفعتهم

شعبك هيحطهملك

في بقك كلهم


سخنت كتير علينا وبسيت إن إحنا مصر

مهد الحضارة بحالها

تاريخ و وعبور ونصر


مصر يناير ويونيو مصر إللي غيرها ما فيش

مصر السيسي إللي قال

أموت وهي تعيش

بس خلاص


Acemoglu and Robinson on Why Democracy Fails

It is possible that the economy would have been so deeply damaged that even greater and more violent protests would have erupted. More ominously, the Muslim Brotherhood may have taken over the arteries of power so thoroughly that they would be able to set up their own dictatorship, effectively blocking any path that may have temporarily opened to more inclusive political institutions in Egypt.All possible, but we also would say that these are perhaps risks preferable to bringing back the army with the support of the so-called Egyptian liberals now cheering an effective return to a military-controlled society. In fact, the Rebel movement, which collected over 20 million signatures to call for early presidential elections, suggests that the Muslim Brotherhood could have easily been defeated at the polls, if only its opponents could bide their time.

The full article is here.