On 25 January 2017, Hamas authorities in Gaza released singer-comedian Adel al-Mashwakhi on bail after having been arrested and in prison since 11 January 2017 for a video he posted on his Facebook page, reported Minneapolis Star Tribune on 26 January 2017.
Al-Mashwakhi said his release was conditional upon him no longer making “politically flavoured” works and to not talk about the conditions of his arrest and detention.
“I decided not to talk in politics, but I will not stop presenting my art through singing,” al-Mashwakhi said. “I can’t stop acting and singing. I die without them.”
The singer-comedian was arrested just hours after he uploaded a political video on his Facebook criticising authorities over the electricity shortages Gazans have been facing for weeks, among other issues.
Earlier, in July 2016, the singer released a widely-shared music video titled ‘Al-Kahraba’ (The Electricity) that focuses on the electricity shortages and the frustrations it has brought for people living in Gaza.
The following are some of the lyrics in that video:
Whoever has electricity raise your nose up high
He will give his neighbour a wire
His neighbour will be thankful until the electricity goes away
We want electricity we don’t want it to go off
Damn that motor, it’s consuming too much gas
Sitting in his home happy and relaxed
Suddenly tek tak tok it goes off and it screws up his conversation
He lights a cigarette to turn off his anger until the electricity comes back
When we turn on the LED lights they’re blinding us
The small yellow lights, they are even better for us
We will bring you batteries, but it won’t be enough
Humility and more humility
Oh poor citizen
Oh God it’s so frustrating
Enough, we really can’t handle it anymore
For some they use a motor
And for the broke people they use an electric candle
When they use the knife they screw you over
It’s okay if they cut off your hand or leg or ear and then they forget about it
Keep calm and pray for electricity to hit them
In the 10 January Facebook video, al-Mashwakhi was more direct in his criticism: “There is no work, no crossings, no food, no water to drink and also there is not electricity. Enough Hamas. Enough, enough, enough. We want electricity, we want electricity, we want electricity.”
As of the writing of this article, the Facebook video has been watched over 400,000 times.
A day after the Facebook video was released and al-Mashwakhi was arrested, more than 10,000 people protested in Gaza over electricity shortages, one of the largest unauthorised protests that has taken place in Gaza since Hamas took control a decade ago.
» Watch al-Mashwakhi’s ‘Al-Kahraba’ video here
» Watch al-Maswakhi’s Facebook video here
» Minneapolis Star Tribune – 26 January 2017
Gaza comedian who criticised Hamas released from jail
» BBC – 13 January 2017
Gaza electricity crisis: Hamas breaks up protest
» Jerusalem Post – 12 January 2017
Hamas arrest Gaza comedian for video no electricity crisis
» The Times of Israel – 11 January 2017
Hamas arrests comedian for video on electricity crisis