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Egyptian artists for and against Mubarak

Egyptian artists for and against Mubarak
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In Tahrir Square, tens of thousands of demonstrators gather every day to demand the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. They highlight their diversity; they represent “the Egyptian people.” Among them are several personalities and politicians, but also actors, musicians and composers.

The famous composer Ammar El Sherei was applauded when he arrived in the Square for “Friday’s departure”. The presence of a person of his stature was warmly welcomed. Before this “revolution of youth “ he had not been known for his political activism against the regime. On the contrary, he’d even composed a song in honour of the president: “We have chosen you”. That same song has now been hijacked by protesters using an anti-regime slogan: “We have not chosen you. We have not accepted you. So why do you stay here?”

video by Husein Emara, euronews correspondent in Cairo

“If there weren’t camels and horses, what did we see? Lions?”

On Friday night, for the first time, El Sherei appeared on Egyptian state television. His criticism of the channel was scathing. How is it possible that on the day of the big demonstration on Tuesday, you showed a small, ridiculous pro-Mubarak protest from all sides? He also accused the official media of becoming “the source of all the rumours about the protesters and what is going on in Tahrir Square”. No, nobody pays them to demonstrate, he said. Mocking the channel further, he said: “And the latest information: ‘no camels or horses’ . Oh, and what did we see on Wednesday then? Lions?”

“The heroes are the young people”

The imitator Mahmoud Azzabi was also in Tahrir Square. Asked about the popular protest movement, he said proudly: “We have reached a beautiful phase. Today is the day of departure and I hope he will leave.” For him, present at these demonstrations since they began on January 25, the “people’s will is clear”. And he says there is no truth to the story of people being paid 50 pounds or offered meals (the pro-Mubarak side accuses the protesters of being paid to demonstrate). He is happy now and believes “the youth must lead the country”. No, he is not going to imitate Mubarak or anyone else. “The heroes are the young people sleeping here for several days. Me, I sleep at home.”

The novelist Ahdaf Soueif has given her account of what’s happening to the British newspaper The Guardian:

“The Tahrir protesters will shape the future of Egypt”

The actress Sherihan also went to the square on Friday, as well as the actor Amr Waked. He said: “Egypt is really in the process of changing. Those who are in Tahrir Square are the most respectable people in the country. They are the ones who will shape the future of Egypt.” As for the price the country is paying during this revolution, he believes the regime in power is responsible. “In the square, with a million protesters, no one is breaking anything.” He condemns the regime, saying it’s using “all forms of violence against unarmed citizens”.

“Mubarak is my father”

Other artists defend the regime. The singer and actor Tamer Hosni wept on national television on Friday night. “I’m hurt,” he sobbed. “There are many young people who do not know how hard he has worked towards maintaining peace. Do you not realise? Mubarak has been in power for 30 years. He has experience! Tomorrow, I’m sure everyone will say Yes to Mubarak. You do not know what could happen if he leaves after 30 years. Egypt is my country and Mubarak is my father. Video on facebook

Moïna Fauchier Delavigne, euronews correspondent in Cairo