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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Between Europe and Palestine

British Palestinian Shadia Mansour began rapping in 2003 and her work has been revolving around the themes of Palestine and the Israeli occupation. She has been maintaining that she considers herself to be part of a "musical intifada" against the occupation of Palestine, conservatism and oppression of women.

Mansour has recorded music with producer Johnny "Juice" Rosado and with artists like Iraqi rappers Lowkey and The Narcicyst, and Palestinian hip-hop group DAM. She has toured with Existence is Resistance, an organization supporting hip-hop shows in Palestine, and is part of the "Arab League" of Hip Hop.

Her first single, "Al Kufiya Arabiya" (The Kufiya is Arab) was written when Mansour discovered an American made blue-and-white colored Arab scarf with Stars of David on it. Emphasizing the symbolic importance of the kufiya in Arab Palestinian struggle, Mansour introduced her song on stage in New York by saying: "You can take my falafel and hummus, but don’t fucking touch my kufiya ". Mansour expressed the anger in her poem:

Now these dogs are starting to wear it as a trend

No matter how they design it, no matter how they change its color
The keffiyeh is Arab, and it will stay Arab
The scarf, they want it
Our intellect, they want it
Our dignity, they want it
Everything that’s ours, they want it
We won’t be silent, we won’t allow it
It suits them to steal something that ain’t theirs and claim that it is.

Shadia is part of a generation of young Muslims in the west that utilize hip hop as a means of commenting on issues that they and their audiences feel passionate about such as the war in Syria, life in occupied Palestine, or in the French banlieues and ultimately see their music as a vehicle for exploring their their 'hyphenated' identities, and reflecting on their experiences. 

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