The music of Marcel Khalife

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Religion and freedom of expression. Marcel Khalife & Mahmoud Darwish, "Ana Yusuf ya Abi". (music, documentary film; Middle East, Islam)

Music, art, religion and politics: Marcel Khalife and Mahmoud Darwish

Marcel Khalife (Wikipedia article)

Marcel Khalife's website

Mahmoud Darwish (Wikipedia article)

Mahmoud Darwish's website

A New World Order, A New Marcel Khalife

Marcel Khalife in Freemuse, a website dedicated to freedom of musical expression.

Watch this interview with Marcel Khalife

Watch Marcel Khalife in performance (the video begins by showing the double bass; Marcel appears later, on the Arabic lute called oud)

Promises of the Storm, a collection of politically-tinged protest songs, based on poetry of Mahmoud Darwish. Lyrics are online in liner notes.

Passport, with English translation. Text

Ana Yusuf ya Abi: the controversy

Read the poem... (the last line is taken from the Qur'an). Many people understand Joseph's complaint against his brothers as a metaphor for Palestinian suffering.

Read the Qur'anic passage in question (and listen to its recitation by clicking on the verse)

Mahmoud Darwish recites his poem

Marcel Khalife sings the poem (the animal photos don't make much sense, but you don't have to watch...)

BBC story I

BBC story II

Read this chronological newspaper archive:

1 2 3 4 5

Marcel Khalife responds to charges against him

Excerpts from judge's decision in Khalife case

Marcel Khalife following court decision

Some thought questions

  • How does this controversy relate to Lebanese identity politics?
  • What is the difference between Qur'anic recitation and Khalife's performance?
  • How is the controversy related to post-colonial issues of identity in Lebanon?
  • Why might Sunni authorities been more critical of Khalife than Shia?
  • Why is secularism such a contested issue in the post-colonial world? How does it follow from the colonial era, both top-down and bottom-up?
  • Why do you suppose the song created so much more controversy than the poem itself?