June 20, 2018 / 4:57 PM

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Muslim Brotherhood rappers in Egypt fight party ban with underground music


The Muslim Brotherhood has been having a difficult time in Egypt. After its star Mohamed Morsi, the first democratically elected President in Egypt, was removed from office by the military over the summer, the party has felt a similar backlash from the government. The incoming regime has made the Muslim Brotherhood an illegal organization. One of its members methods of fighting back may surprise westerners: hip-hop music. 

NBC News recently ran an intriguing profile of Abdullah Sharif, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as an aspiring rapper. Sharif said that many Islamists enjoyed the genre, and he demonstrated his awareness of hip-hop's roots, citing its origins as protest music in New York City. 

"Music is a threat to them,"he said. "They have guns but they still fear us. Taking a microphone away won't stop me being heard."

Television stations that were formally connected  to the Brotherhood have been shut down, but young performers such as Sharif have used internet services such as YouTube to spread its message. Although that prevents the government from fully cracking down on his messages, it still leaves him open to censorship. State police officers came to his home and confiscated all of his equipment last month. 

Sharif isn't the first rapper to make strides in the time surrounding "Arab Spring." Tunisia, one of the major players in the beginning of the Spring movement during 2011, found an anthem of sorts in the track "Mr. President" released by 22 year-old rapper El General. The song went viral when it was posted during the rising unrest. 

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