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Galal's poetry


In February 2018 Egyptian artist Ramy Essam released a song and music video, Balaha. Lyricist of the song, poet Galal El-Behairy has been imprisoned in Egypt since. Director of the music video Shady Habash died in custody after being jailed for almost 800 days.

Galal El-Behairy

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Galal El-Behairy was sentenced to 3 years in prison and a 10 000 L.E. fine by the Military Court in Cairo, for his unpublished book of poetry, The Finest Women On Earth.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. After serving the 3 years sentence, Galal stays imprisoned in Egypt.​ 


5 March 2023 marked 5 years since the arrest of Galal El-Behairy. The same day, Galal started a hunger strike, to get out of prison alive, or not alive. Shortly after he quit drinking water on 1 June, he had to be hospitalized as he was in need of urgent medical assistance. Avant-Garde Lawyers urge the United Nations Working Group to take urgent action to ensure Galal's right to life and to physical and mental integrity are respected and to secure his timely release.

Read Galal's poetry from behind bars >

Shady Habash


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 >

Read more about
Balaha case >

the case

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.

Ramy Essam

April 5, 2018

in co-operation

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