Over the past two weeks on MORNING EDITION, we've been playing a lot of music from North Africa. Many of the songs featured are ones Steve and our team have been hearing on the radio during their long road trip. One Egyptian musician that caught their attention is Youssra El Hawary.


YOUSSRA EL HAWARY: (Singing in foreign language)

MONTAGNE: This song, El Hawary's best known, is about Tahrir Square, the vibrant center of Egypt's Arab spring uprising. When we called her, she told us it's also about the changes the square has seen since then.

HAWARY: The army came and built, like, a huge wall so that the downtown area is all locked because of this wall. And the traffic is so bad.


The song is called "Al Soor" or "The Wall." And it's about the many barriers that exist in society. The lyrics are from a poem written by the well-known Egyptian poet and cartoonist Waleed Taher. And the lyrics were written several years before the Arab Spring erupted. But the young musician, El Hawary, says the poem's theme resonated with her as she watched the military's attempt to clamp down on the uprising.

HAWARY: So, when I read this again, I linked it to the walls that we all see now in downtown and it's something we are new to Cairo.

GREENE: The lyrics feature a poor old man rebelling against authority in the only way he can.

HAWARY: A poor man came and peed on this wall.


HAWARY: (Singing in foreign language)

MONTAGNE: And those words, sung by a woman, sparked some outrage in conservative circles in Egypt. But the music video went viral on social media sites. It features El Hawary playing her accordion on the wall near Tahrir before she's chased away by security guards.

GREENE: The success of this song, some say, reflects the important lasting role social media has played in Egypt. It's one of 11 songs El Hawary has released on the Internet. She says she prefers that method because of its lack of censorship, lack of limitation.


HAWARY: (Singing in foreign language)

GREENE: And you can stream a mix of North African music and also see El Hawary's video for "Al Soor" at

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