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French Version

Egyptian singer laments Hariri's death but clears Syria in latest hit

Abdel-Rahim vents his frustration at apathy of Arab leaders

Famed Egyptian singer Shaaban Abdel-Rahim has hit the charts with a new song where he laments the assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri while exonerating Syria of all responsibility for his death.

"I hate terrorism which I denounce with all my conscience," chants Abdel-Rahim, nicknamed Shaabullah by his fans.

"I was distressed when Hariri was killed, he gave jobs to many and was for his people a companion," the lyrics continue, making a pun on Hariri's first name which means "companion" in Arabic.

The song's video, which is often broadcast on the Arab nonstop music satellite channel Mazzika, has drawn an admiring audience from wide-ranging economic backgrounds and ages.

Abdel-Rahim, a former laundry man sporting a heavily waxed hairdo, is filmed singing with interspersed footage and pictures of Hariri at the apex of his political career when he rubbed shoulders with world leaders.

The acne-scarred singer is shown wearing his trademark gaudy flowery shirts and sports heavy gold bracelets and chains augmented by a flashy watch on each wrist.

"Lebanon and Syria are one and none had a hand in Hariri's murder," he sings, adding that "here was an act by people in high places." He also accuses Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, whom he flayed in an earlier song at the height of the Palestinian uprising titled "I hate Israel and love Amr Moussa" - the Arab League chief who was then Egypt's foreign minister.

As in previous hits, Shaabullah resorts to straight-to-the-point lyrics and simple shaabi (popular) rhythms when he vents his frustration at the apathy of Arab leaders who "like ostriches hide their faces," saying: "We will see more of the same as long as our attention is turned elsewhere."

The singer reminds his Arab audience of previous tips he gave against conspiracies in the making.

"I pointed my finger at the criminal but you didn't believe me," he complains, pointing to his 2003 song against the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

"Go inspect Israel instead, there are lots of weapons of mass destruction there," blasted the anti-war song that also accused Sharon of causing "a bloodbath" in the region.

Lebanon is enjoying its share of pro-Hariri songs since his death on February, played in loop on the country's Future Television that was founded and owned by the slain ex-premier.

Lebanon's anti-Syria opposition squarely charges President Bashar Assad of being behind the assassination though no evidence has been uncovered yet.

A United Nations team dispatched after Hariri's assassination noted that Assad had threatened physical harm against Hariri over his opposition to Damascus's continued dominance over Lebanon. A full UN probe is to be launched shortly.

Cairo,04 25 2005
The Daily Star
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