In February 2018 Egyptian artist Ramy Essam released a song and music video, Balaha. Lyricist of the song, poet Galal El-Behairy and web designer Mustafa Gamal have been imprisoned in Egypt since. Director of the music video Shady Habash died in custody after being jailed for almost 800 days.
After almost 800 days in prison, photographer and music video director Shady Habash died in Tora Prison, Cairo, on May 1st 2020, because of medical negligence.
Shady was imprisoned since March 2018, because of directing the music video for Egyptian artist Ramy Essam’s song Balaha. Shady didn’t have anything to do with the content of the song. As an award-winning filmmaker Shady was constantly working on Middle Eastern projects, and Balaha was just one of the many music videos that Shady directed in his career. Read more >
On 31st of July 2018, Galal El-Behairy was sentenced to 3 years in prison and a 10 000 L.E. fine by the Military Court in Cairo, for his unpublished book of poetry, The Finest Women On Earth. Galal also faced charges in a Civilian Court case concerning Balaha, which he has been released from. However, he stays imprisoned, having been sentenced already in the Military Court.
Web designer Mustafa Gamal has nothing to do with Balaha. One of his clients in 2015 was Ramy Essam – he had certified Ramy’s fan page on Facebook, and this had been the only connection between him and Ramy. After 4 years and 4 months in custody, Mustafa was released on July 8th 2022 as one of the prisoners pardoned on Eid Al-Adha.
It is a song
We have been dreaming of a better Egypt for seven years. Even in the darkest of times, we haven’t lost hope. We have expressed ourselves peacefully through art, using music as a tool against violence, oppression and corruption.
With this song we wanted to remind everyone of the freedom we once had, granted by the revolution. We wanted to remind everyone of the right to speak, the right to criticize, and the right to dream of change.
We wanted to start a dialogue about where Egypt is now and where it could be. Our art is not created to make people fight. It is music, it is how we feel. It is a song.
April 5, 2018