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  • Author or Editor: Joel W. Abdelmoez x
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Abstract

In July 2013, after months of protest, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, was ousted by the Egyptian armed forces. The Muslim Brotherhood, who supported Morsi, took to the streets, chanting and singing against the ousting, which they termed a military coup, while supporters of Sisi, who viewed it as a revolution, began producing songs to show their allegiance to the military leadership. While abundant research has been conducted on the role of oppositional and revolutionary music in Egypt since 2011, relatively little has been done on the widely popular pro-military music sometimes known as watani music. Watani songs are a genre of patriotic music made by popular artists to show their allegiance to the Egyptian armed forces. In this paper I examine the surge of watani songs and trace their history back to the Nasser era, thereby showing a continuity in style as well as content. I further argue that there are connections between nationalism and gender constructions, as the national project comes with obligations for men to offer their bodies to the cause. This obligation is aided by constructions about ‘male bravery’ and ‘courage’ that are designed to make men believe that military service is somehow essential to masculinity. Watani music, whether commissioned or not, fits well with this mythology of military men. It forms an ideological undercurrent, supports the narrative that it is necessary for patriotic military men to bravely safeguard the nation against its enemies.

Open Access
In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication