Public image is important in Lebanon. However, speaking out is even more important. That’s exactly what Mohamad Iskandar did with his new music video insinuating, not so subtly, corruption and unfair hierarchy, causing a whirl of controversy and triggering a lawsuit.
The title of his song Men Ayna Laka Hatha probably says it all, calling for answers from wealthy politicians to “Where Did You Get That From.” The video scenes are even more explicit as the song was meant to bring awareness regarding the inequality of wealth in Lebanon.
While awareness and even accusatory songs are not uncommon, the downfall of the video ensued mainly from its mentioning of Banque de l’Habitat that proceeded to raise a legal case against the singer Iskandar.
The music video shows people of the lower class in harsh situations and their thumbs inked as an indication that they voted for the government’s political leaders. The video also sheds light on how people’s means of connections allow them to get to where they want in Lebanon.
Holding accountable the leaders, the Arabic lyrics say, “You’re playing with millions and you’re breaking millions of hearts.” With reference to that, it reveals how connections can get a person a housing loan more efficiently than other people with no connection.
Strange enough, the matter was deemed of such high importance that the legal case went to the Court of Urgent Matters in Beirut.
Judge Hala Naja issued a verdict forcing Mohamad Iskandar and his son Fares to remove the translation of Banque de l’Habitat from a scene in the music video where the scene was meant to show a bank office. The ruling also included a fine for any delay in removing the name of the bank from the video, amounting to 5 Million LBP ($3,300) per day.
The song itself is actually pleasing to listen to, with a compelling authentic Arabian beat. It is yet to know if the entire video will be permanently deleted. It does come as a surprise that an artist was so blunt in expressing what he believes happens behind closed doors in Lebanon.