My dear friend, colleague and brother, filmmaker Shady Habash died on the 1st of May in Tora prison, Cairo, at the age of 24. He was arrested almost 800 days ago, after the release of my song Balaha causing controversy in February 2018. The music video was directed by Shady who didn’t have anything to do with the content of the song. Anyhow, Shady Habash and others faced a variety of charges, and a verdict was never given. His extremely violent arrest was followed by three days of torture and two years of medical negligence.
Shady was an award-winning photographer and director who had the skills, the passion and the right to make his art. Balaha was just one of the many music videos Shady directed in his career. Shady was not even aware of us filming the video: it was filmed by another artist outside of Egypt, and Shady only did the post production from the raw material given to him.
Making art is not a crime, and the message of my songs is my responsibility. Despite that, everyone working with me is always asked about their willingness to publish their name. None of the artists and musicians I have worked with are responsible for what is said in my songs. Shady decided to put his name on his artwork because making art should never cause harm.
Shady was a kind, funny and easy-going person. He was an amazing friend, and was always there for his loved ones. He was a very peaceful human.
Shady deserves to be remembered as the great person and artist that he was, including all his artwork, not just remembered for one music video.
A song didn’t kill Shady Habash. What killed Shady was the dictatorship and the horrendous violation of his human rights, and we have to demand for the investigation of his death caused by denial of medical care. We have to stop the same violation happening to Galal El-Behairy and Mustafa Gamal, who are still behind bars because of a song, suffering from human rights violations as thousands of others.
Rest in peace, Shady.
May 6th 2020