It has been on my mind to write some form of protest song for, or about Ibrahim Halawa for quite a while. As you may already know he was imprisoned for attending a protest in Egypt and is now in his forth year in appalling conditions.
I’m annoyed with myself that I didn’t write something a year or more ago. I had known that he’s just a normal young lad living in Tallaght and I just saw recently that he was born in the Coombe like myself. Not that it matters where he was born. He’s an Irish Citizen and that means we have a responsibility for his well-being. What drove me over the edge to reach out to him in song was some of the terrible things that I read recently by people writing about him in comments online. I want to let him know that I and everyone I know are appalled at how he is being treated and we are in solidarity with him. Seeing comments like that, which add mis-information and lies can tend to make moderate non-activist people like myself turn a blind eye. The seeds of confusion are sown and make good people second guess what in their core they know to be true and what they should speak up about.
To me Ibrahim is a hero in the Joseph Campell sense of the word. A normal Irish teenager thrown into a situation that he probably never imagined. We are lucky in Ireland to live in a democratic system which obviously has it’s flaws but we have freedom. As far as I can see Ibrahim stood up for democracy when he was in Egypt and we need to have his back. As a songwriter my only ammunition is a song and a song isn’t going to free him, but if it can help Ibrahim in any way then it’s something.
He should be released and allowed to come home immediately and our Government should take a much stronger stance in my opinion. Obviously the politics of the situation are complicated and I don’t know the half of it but no country’s law should be above human rights law in my opinion. I don’t know how much clout we as a supposedly neutral country have but surely that’s partly what the EU is for. Here are very good articles about what happened to Ibrahim in The Irish Times and on the Amnesty International site. Freedom Believer is a song in solidarity of all who believe in democracy and I sing it in solidarity with Ibrahim, his friends and family.
Translation by Gabriel Rosenstock. A similar version can be found on my Whorls album. It would be great if you could share it with someone who might like it. Thanks
I’m delighted to be adding music again to more of Yeats’ work. This time it’s his plays, The Cat and The Moon and Purgatory both of which have been translated to Irish by Gabriel Rosenstock with Mouth On Fire Theatre company. They are directed by Cathal Quinn with whom i’ll also be performing the poem Easter 1916. I’ll also be singing The Drinking Song, Down by the Sally Gardens as featured on my Whorls album and The Lake Isle Of Innishfree.