Exclusive - Renowned Iraqi Singer Running for Elections: I Want to Defend the Oppressed

Exclusive - Renowned Iraqi Singer Running for Elections: I Want to Defend the Oppressed

Wednesday, 18 April, 2018 - 05:30
A file photo of the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad. (Reuters)
Baghdad - Asharq Al-Awsat
The Iraqi elections have seen a number of surprising figures submit their candidacy for the May 12 polls. The previous three rounds have never seen such a diverse pool of candidates, perhaps the most prominent of whom is singer Fadel Awad.

The artist will run for the national coalition headed by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. His candidacy has set a precedent in that no Iraqi singer has ever run for parliament, not even one as famous as himself.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Parliament is the loudest voice of legislation in the country. I want to use that platform to defend the oppressed and artists. That is my priority.”

He complained of the sectarian mentality that still grips his country, noting that hundreds of displaced people have not been allowed to return to their hometowns under weak excuses.

“This injustice must cease,” demanded Awad.

He revealed that he has his own platform and goals that he aspires to achieve, despite agreeing with the broad articles of Allawi’s electoral program.

Awad, along with Hussein Nehme, Yas Khodr, Hmeid Mansour and Saadoun Jaber, are among the most prominent Iraqi artists of the 1970s and 80s.

Born in Baghdad in 1942, his versatile voice has allowed him to sing Baghdad- and country-style songs.

He was also noted for immigrating from Iraq in the 1990s to escape the economic difficulties at the time and the harassment he was subject to by Uday Hussein, the son of former ruler Saddam. He lived in Libya where he taught Arabic.

“We were hoping to return to Iraq with our head held high after the fall of the Saddam regime, but the situation for artists today is painful,” he lamented.

Commenting on his chances of winning the elections, he said: “I have not planned an extensive electoral campaign. It is limited to relatives and hanging some posters in Baghdad.”

“I think the whole of Iraq is my support base. I do not have sectarian leanings as my mother is Shi’ite and my father is Sunni,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The veteran singer does not shy away from telling the truth as it is.

“Sectarianism exists and it must stop in my country,” he demanded. “I am running in the elections to defend the weak, not out of my love of politics.”

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