In Syria today, singing the wrong song can bring a death sentence. This reality became brutally clear after Ibrahim Qashoush was found dead in the city of Hama, his throat cut by Syrian agents and, according to rumor, his vocal chords ripped out.
Qashoush was a 42 year-old fireman and father of three. He’d long been an amateur poet and singer, and when protests against President Bashar al-Assad broke out in his hometown, he led thousands in a simple protest song that begged, “Get out Bashar! Freedom is at the door!” Since his death, the song has become the soundtrack for the revolution.
In the video below, one of Qashoush’s renditions, recorded just weeks before his death, is remixed by a group calling itself the Creative Syrian Revolution.
Some of the best known songs about the revolution are from the Syrian diaspora. In Paris, Samih Shuqair has composed a song that directly takes aim at the Assad regime, with lyrics that cry, “What a shame, unarmed people shot with live bullets, children are arrested! How come? What a shame . . .” In the video below, his song is subtitled and combined with some graphic videos from the revolution.
Also from the diaspora, Wasfi Massarani, a Syrian living in the Czech Republic, has been touring the U.S. and Europe to raise awareness of, and money for, the Syrian opposition. In this song, he mixes his own vocals of a traditional song, here used to pay respect to the martyrs of the revolution, with background vocals provided by protestors who have been singing the same song to fortify themselves.