Ahmed al-Basheer, satirist from Iraq, Aeham Ahmed, Syrian pianist, Ammar Abo Bakr, Egyptian street artist, as well as German musicians Samy Deluxe and Fetsum discussed the effects of art on politics.
“Old issues should not be the issues of the future generation. This is what I try to convey with my music,” said Fetsum at the last day of this year’s Global Media Forum. ”We need to pick up a dialogue instead of demonizing issues. Art and music offer a great platform to do this.”
When asked how one could possibly choose satire after suffering such tragedy in their own country and within their family, al-Basheer explained: “If you really want to hurt somebody in the Middle East, make fun of them. It will hurt them more than hitting them in their face or pointing a gun at them.” After his satire TV show initially launched in Iraq, however, the audience did not receive it very well: “They thought that making fun of Iraqi politics also meant that I was making fun of our country and its people. The turning point came when the Iraqi people understood that humor could change something and saw the truth in it.”
Back in Syria, Aeham Ahmed’s art was also met with incomprehension. “People in Syria don’t understand classical music. Now, that I am here in Europe, I can mix classical and Arabic and begin to make my own music,” said Ahmed. “I don’t need to start a revolution. I just want to see that my music is making children laugh in the streets of Syria.” Every day Ahmed said goodbye to his wife before leaving the house since the pianist wasn’t sure if he’d come back. “I told her: I am not doing something bad. I am not fighting, I only make music.”
Abo Bakr found himself questioning the job of an artist: “Should I paint and then just sell my art to somebody?” The muralist decided to have his own revolution in the streets: “With my art, I want to engage with citizens on the streets. I try to keep a visual memory of the revolution so that people remember what happened in Egypt.”
For Samy Deluxe, growing up in Germany was quite “traumatizing”, he even called himself “half-black” at some point. Thus he recommended: “Shape your own culture and views. Don’t let society do it for you.” Referring to the very current topic of the AfD party, Samy Deluxe added: “It is not shocking that something like this happens. We need to keep the dialogue open on as many fronts as possible.” Fetsum backed his colleague and quoted a German saying: “Fear is always a bad consultant. Everybody needs to invest in the world they want to live in – no matter who you are or where you come from. Freedom means being free to choose what you want to do with your life, but at the same time you have to take responsibility for your actions.”