Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Follow up on Kuwaiti singer (updated)

I mentioned a few days ago about Emma Shah, a Kuwaiti singer who found herself severely criticized for singing a Hebrew song (Hava Nagila) in a Kuwaiti club.

It turns out that she has a YouTube channel where you can hear her French and Hebrew versions of Hava Nagila. Check out her nearly 20-second single high note that starts at around 2:55:

You can also see the Al Arabiya interview with her about this incident. It is in Arabic, but you can see a couple of seconds of her performing the song live before the interview:

UPDATE: Zvi found an English language report on the incident and comments:
Ema also appears to be free of insane hatreds. And she's willing to demonstrate this in public. In a society whose media is frequently critical of public displays of non-hatred of Jews or public acknowledgement that Jews exist and are human, that makes her a fairly impressive person to my mind.

Ema also responds that the poly-lingual Egyptian-Italian diva Dalida sang "Hava Nagila" (and also "Hine Ma Tov"). Ema dedicated her version of "Hava Nagila" to Dalida.

Here are 2 partial translations of Ema's interview responses, together with context. The Islamic scholar who led the attack on her in the press has attacked her before (see below). Maybe he's just obsessed with her. And since he says that she displays "alien attitudes that clash with the spirit, culture and values of the Kuwaiti society," the conflict is not limited to "Hava Nagila," and his accusations of pro-Zionism and the like are just the latest in an ongoing attack. What the guy really hates is her "attitude."

"Unfortunately, our media focuses on wars and problems, and not on meaningful work. I have written in Russian and performed in Arabic, English, Spanish, Japanese and French. Does that make me a spy for France or Britain?" she said acidly according to local media reports. -Gulf News, quoting Ema

I love her "attitude". I'm sure that Sheikh Awadhi really hates it when she uses logic.
"He had criticized me in the past for a song about Jesus, and I see no motive for his attacks on me," she said. "I am well versed in all religions, sects and creeds and I do not have a problem with anyone. I love all people and there are Christians and people with various religious beliefs in my audience," she concluded. -Gulf News, quoting Ema

Ema's detractors see her self-defense against their libel as "abuse" of freedom of the press (see the Toumi link above). They evidently believe that they have the right to lie about her (claiming that she sang insults against Arabs, which is a pathetic and laughable claim) but that she has no right to defend herself. That says an AWFUL lot about her detractors, doesn't it?

She's human. She's not perfect. I hope that the Kuwaiti media does not brow-beat her into making some public show of anti-Jewish feeling. That would be sad.

I wish her the best of luck.
Also, an anonymous correspondent send me a translation of the Al Arabiya interview. Excerpts:
We witnessed much anger in the Kuwaiti street due to the choice of Kuwaiti actress Emma to sing in Hebrew, in one of the concerts in the capital. The young actress has confirmed that the song she sang at a ceremony on the stage of Club Kuwaiti had already been sung by actress Dalida in French and Hebrew, and at the time Emma did not know the exact meaning of the text of the song, but after the uproar Emma defended the song, saying it does not indicate any kind of abuse of the Arabs.

And with us from Kuwait is Emma. Why did you sing in Hebrew?

Emma: Yes, dear, the show, my dear, was not limited to Hebrew, I sang eighty percent of the songs in classical Arabic and five songs in English and two songs in French and a song in Spanish and part of a song in the Japanese language and part also in Hebrew, which simulated a humanitarian tour around the world from France Enrico Macias and Guevara in Argentina, Germany, Hitler and Mahmoud Darwish in the wall and Britain, Sir Arthur, Gibran Khalil Gibran and Iraqi Maarov Rusafi as well as the Rasputin of Russia and the various personalities, and also the Christ of the Christian and Jewish heritage of all.

Presenter: But some see what is the significance of the song Artist Emma in Kuwait, the Arab public does not know Hebrew, speak Hebrew, they do not know what message that you were trying to deliver to them.

Emma: Honey, is not important to take the significance of the Arab world, because this show [was meant for an audience that was]a group of intellectuals. I was not necessarily obliged to explain this kind of art to the general audience. The idea of this show was a type of anthropology, human science , we are talking about man in the human race, I want to communicate between all members of the human race, I want to remove these barriers, this ideological borders the troubled psychologically such as religious Islamic fanatics who are against women and against freedom and against liberalism and democracy that are the foundation of this problem. The problem is not the streets of Kuwait, the Kuwaiti street has no problem in this maelstrom.

Presenter: If you please, let's not get into the clergy, especially as there are none of them here to respond...

Emma: No, no, Dear, no no no no. In all articles that had attacked me, the Islamists are the ones who attacked me.

Presenter: I understand you, but allow me this question, perhaps what you sang came out of what is happening in Palestine and not out of the clergy (Islamists)

Emma: No dear, I am not involved in the question of Palestine..., I'm an artist, and my case is not Palestine, I have issues that belong to me, I am interested in my issues.

Presenter: Last question, are you satisfied with the singing in Hebrew?

Emma: Of course, what is the problem? This is freedom, personal freedom. I call upon the city which actually placed in the Kuwaiti Constitution Article 35 and 36 the ideas of freedom of conscience and freedom of expression and opinion and freedom to express one's opinion and to publicize it verbally, in writing or any other way that is desired.