by Hatim Suleiman
For a long time, the Palestinian plight and general Arab national themes dominated Syrian political singing. The regime of Al-Asad (father and son) left no space for songs critical of Syrian domestic politics. These days however singer-songwriter Samih Shuqair, the young Syrian singer Wasfi Massarani and the popular goalkeeper Abdul-Baset Saroot are criticizing the regime in their songs.
– Samih Shuqair is a Syrian singer song-writer known for his political songs especially in the leftist circles. He has been making music albums since the early 1980s. Last year, influenced by the regime’s crackdown on the city of Daraa (where the Syrian revolt began), he made the courageous step to criticize the regime in the song “Ya heef” (What a shame, unarmed people shot with live bullets, children are arrested! How come? What s shame…etc ). This song is probably the most famous song by a Syrian professional musician on the Syrian revolution. Samih Shuqair has been living in Paris for years.
– Wasfi Massarani is a young Syrian singer based in the Czech Republic who has been touring Europe and the US singing in support of his homeland. Transforming old songs of Syria’s treasure of traditional music into revolutionary songs about the current uprising and its victims. For example, the song Skaba (Skaba ya demou’ el-ain, meaning tears fall from the eyes), is originally a folk melancholic song. This time however, Massarani made the tears fall for the revolt’s martyrs, starting the song with a dedication to Meshaal Temmo (a Syrian Kurdish civil rights activist assassinated in October last year after joining the revolution). He then moves on to salute every city’s courage and sacrifices. The backing vocals are the voices of real demonstrators (these recordings of the demonstrations are usually sent to him via the internet). As in many Syrian demonstrations, the demonstrators’ gather, hold hands and sing together these old melodies for courage, strength and solidarity.
– Abdu-Baset Saroot is the goal keeper of the Syrian national youth football team and of Homs city’s local club. He is now however called the keeper of the revolution. Inflaming the crowds and leading demonstrations with his improvised words sung- or recited- on typical Syrian rural tunes. Being an influential and popular figure, he’s become an icon of the revolt in Homs and other revolting cities in Syria, making him a target of the regime. He’s been the run for months, suffered injuries in an assassination attempt, had his brother killed and his family’s house destroyed.
In this song he sings for “Ya Wattanna ya Ghali“, our dear homeland. Just like Massarani’s song, he salutes every city and its people. The Syrians seem well aware of their diversity and dream of getting back a homeland for all Syrians, free of oppression and sectarianism.