The original Ayman Nour soundtrack

The Aardvark noted the whole scandal over Ayman Nour being forbidden to air his TV advertisement because he hadn't paid the royalties over Muhammad Mounir's song from the Youssef Chahine movie Al Massir--a catchy and appropriate song, actually, since it urges listeners to (loosely translated) "Raise your voice, anything is possible."

And the Nour team should have known better than to use someone else's song, especially one as famous as that. But of course their video was produced by young volunteers (unlike the NDP-one that was produced by one of the hottest directors in Egypt). The objection seems entirely legitimate, although I'm sure it would not have been applied if the shoe was on the other foot.

But funnily enough, Mounir's song was not the original choice. I was with Nour's campaign most of the day last Friday, and during the lunch break I sat two seats from Nour as aides came to show him the clip for the first time. It shows images of "ordinary Egyptians", from an old to a young child, and is then cut with an interview of Nour talking about hope, the future etc... And the music to all this was originally composed and performed by the Kronos Quartet and most famously used as the theme music to Requiem for a Dream and the preview of The Two Towers, the second in the Lord of the Rings trilogy (you know, that scene where you see the Orcs storming through Helm's Deep.)

As you can imagine, it's rather grandiose music, in keeping with Nour's image of himself.

Had they chosen to stick with Kronos, there would have still been a copyright violation issue, but at least not of a musician and song that are well known in Egypt. But come to think of it, they would have probably found another excuse: under the rules set for the elections, state TV authorities have the right to take up to 72 hours to review an advertisement--something Gameela Ismail complained about and said was not being applied to the Mubarak campaign, of course. Even if they change the soundtrack, I'm not sure that there will now be enough time for the Nour clip to get sufficient airtime before the election.

A Nour aide promised to email me a compressed version of the clip when it's finalized. I'll post it here if I get it before the election.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.