"Balaha" by singer Ramy Essam
أغنية "بلحة" لرامي عصام
This satirical song was released in February 2018, criticising the 4-year rule of President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, telling him that 'enough is enough'. Sisi is referred to as "balaha", which literally means 'date' (as in the fruit) but also refers to the name of a character in a famous Egyptian film of the 1980s. The character, played by actor Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, was committed to a psychiatric hospital because he suffered from a mental disorder and illusions of grandeur.
Ramy Essam shot to fame during the 18 days of the Tahrir Square sit-in in 2011, with his song 'Irhal' ('Leave'). Following the military coup of 2013, Essam was forced to leave Egypt.
Seven Egyptians were arrested for their association or perceived association with the song, accused of spreading false news and joining a terrorist organization. They included the writer of the song's lyrics (Galal El Behairy), the video director (Shady Habash) and even a former band member, Ramy Sidky, who did not even contribute to the song. Shady Habash died in prison on 1 May 2020.
- Directed by Shady Habash, Lyrics by Galal El Behairy
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Ramy Essam, “"Balaha" by singer Ramy Essam,” Politics, Popular Culture and the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, accessed December 7, 2023, https://egyptrevolution2011.ac.uk/items/show/17.