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Egypt: Tuk-tuk driver killed in quarrel with Quran reciter over ‘mahraganat’ songs

Egypt’s musicians syndicate has banned any performance of infamous music

The infamous mahraganat songs usually include lyrics that discuss politics, sex, and day-to-day life of the youth living in Cairo slums.
Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: A driver of a tuk-tuk, or autorickshaw, was killed by a Quran reciter in Qalyubiya province, north of Cairo, when the motorist allegedly failed to lower the sound of a cassette player, which loudly played mahraganat songs in front of the reciter’s house.

The infamous songs usually include lyrics that discuss politics, sex, and day-to-day life of the youth living in Cairo slums, which are explicit and have never represented mainstream Egyptian music.

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Major General Fakhr El Din Al Arabi, Director of Security in Qalyubia, received a report that a quarrel had erupted between a tuk-tuk driver,19, and a Quran reciter, 27, when the latter demanded that the driver lower the volume of his cassette player.

The driver allegedly refused to comply with the young reciter’s request, which prompted him to fetch a pair of scissors from his house and stabbed the driver in the chest. The driver died on the spot, police said.


Prosecutors ordered the reciter be remanded in custody pending further investigation and trial and an autopsy be made on the body of the deceased.

Hany Shaker, the head of Egypt’s Musicians Syndicate, said the mahraganat songs are more dangerous than drugs, stressing this type of songs is absolutely not appropriate for Egypt and its artistic history.

Shaker added, during a phone call to a TV show, presented by Wael Al Ibrashi, that these songs are a “great disaster not befitting Egypt and its art or the beautiful era under President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi”.

He went on to say, “These songs are dangerous for children and young people.”

Shaker has issued a decree banning all mahraganat singers (electronic folk) from performing in any festivals, clubs, cafes or other concerts.


Shaker noted, “Mahraganat musicians will no longer be working in Egypt,” and that they will “not be able to obtain licence” to perform anywhere.

“This type of music is based on promiscuous and immoral lyrics, which is completely prohibited, and as such, the door is closed on it,” adding, “we want real art.”

Shaker said the ban applies “to all mahraganat singers”, including the popular duo ‘Oka Wi Ortega’, as this type of genre does “not represent Egypt”.

The decision came after an incident during a Valentine’s Day concert held in Cairo Stadium, where Hassan Shakoush sang the lyrics “I drink alcohol and smoke hashish”, which was considered a violation of the principles of Egyptian society.

In a press release, Egypt’s Music Syndicate warned all nightclubs, tourist facilities, Nile boats, and cafes that any engagement with Mahraganat performers will result in “legal action.”


Mahraganat is known to have originated in the slums of Cairo around 2006-7, where wedding DJs began combining folk music and electronic dance music with various influences from reggae and rap.

In a Rolling Stone feature article, it was dubbed as Egypt’s new ‘musical revolution’, which was “created by and for an uncertain youth in the wake of a tumultuous, post-Mubarak Egypt”.