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Solidarity denied: Authorities cancel scheduled Alex concert

In an unfortunate example of life imitating art, a concert headlined by the musicians featured in critically-acclaimed independent Egyptian film “Microphone” was abruptly canceled at the last minute due to “security reasons.”

The “Microphone for Alex” concert, scheduled for Sunday night, had been intended as a statement of solidarity in response to the New Year’s Eve church bombing in Alexandria, in which 23 people were killed and scores injured. All the profits from ticket sales would have gone to the families of the victims.

News of the cancellation came as many of the performing artists and event organizers were on their way to Alexandria for the event.

“I’m very upset,” said organizer Abdel Kadir “Bob” Jadid. “This would have been a great way to express solidarity and national unity, not to mention the proceeds that would have been generated for those hurt in the bombing.”

Participating musicians were particularly disappointed by the news, even if most of them were “used to this by now,” as 22-year-old Badr Dahi, member of hip-hop ensemble Y Crew Family, told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

“We’ve dealt with this sort of situation several times before,” he said. “But it’s all the more disappointing this time because of what the event was supposed to mean, and because of the large numbers of people who we know had planned to show up.”

Dahi’s band-mate, who goes by the stage name Skelly GG, agrees, admitting, “I had a bad feeling about today, and I was right.” The group’s star rapper and break-dancer, Monkey, was more resigned, noting, “It’s understandable that because of the church bombing authorities might not want big crowds gathering in Alexandria, but I still don’t think this justifies canceling the event.”

Y Crew Family’s manager, 26-year-old Tamer Awad, was hardly surprised by the eleventh-hour cancellation, but nevertheless expressed frustration. “They ignore what the message of this concert was supposed to be and instead act like we’re planning to blow up the stage,” he said.

Also noticeably upset was Hossam Ghalib, the 31-year-old bassist for Puzzle, a trio devoted to chill-out music. When asked what he thought about the cancellation, he said: “Just some really obscene stuff that you wouldn’t be able to print.”

“We’re trying to do something humane; spread a positive message,” he added. “We’re trying to bring people together–and we can’t.”

Barring another surprise cancellation, the musicians are scheduled to perform on Monday night at Zamalek’s Al-Sawy Cultural Center.

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