Cairo: Emirati singer Hussain Al Jasmi has soared to fresh heights of popularity in Egypt with his latest release Boshret Kheir (A Good Omen), a music video encouraging Egyptians to vote in the coming presidential elections.
The song has proved a smash hit, with 850,000 people watching it on the first day of its release on the YouTube more than a week ago.
It is often played at local wedding parties, coffee shops and shopping malls. “Boshret Kheir” is also a popular ringtone for mobiles.
In the video, apparently inspired by Pharrell Williams’ “Happy”, residents from Egypt’s 27 governorates look happy and dance as they carry placards urging their compatriots to vote and “participate” in the May 26-27 elections.
Its lyrics by Egyptian songwriter Ayman Bahjat Qamar, goes: “What has Egypt gained from your silence? Don’t deny it your vote. You’re determining tomorrow on your terms. This is a good omen.” The music is by Egyptian composer Amr Moustafa.
Ex-defence minister Abdul Fattah Al Sissi and long-time leftist leader Hamdeen Sabahi are the only contenders in the elections, Egypt’s first since the army deposed Islamist president Mohammad Mursi in July last year. Al Sissi, who led Mursi’s overthrow, is widely expected to win. However, there are concerns among his campaigners that the legitimacy of his win will be diminished if the voter turnout is low.
Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood has called for boycotting the polls, branding them a “bloody farce.” The leading protest group April 6 Youth has also said it will boycott, claiming the polls will lead to a new dictatorship.
Al Jasmi’s song was released amid a high-profile campaign on pro-military private TV stations and state television telling the public “Egypt needs your vote”.
Meanwhile, Al Jasmi, who is also famed for other songs about Egypt, has said that his latest does not favour a certain candidate. “I haven’t sung ‘Boshret Kheir’ for a certain campaign, a certain political party or a certain person,” he told the private Egyptian TV CBC. “I have presented it for Egyptians, who have lost joy over the past period.”
Egypt has been hit by street turmoil and political instability since a 2011 uprising forced long-standing president Hosni Mubarak out of power.
The popularity of “Boshret Kheir” has prompted a group of Egyptians to set up a page on the social networking site Facebook calling for granting him Egyptian citizenship. “This is a gesture of appreciation and respect for this artist, who has loved Egypt more than some Egyptians. Day after day, he proves that he loves Egypt and Egyptians from his heart,” they wrote.