Egypt radio bans popular singer Hamza Namira for 'critical' songs

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Hamza NamiraImage source, Not specified
Image caption,
Hamza Namira has not been "approved for broadcast" by the Egyptian government

Egyptian state radio has banned the songs of popular singer Hamza Namira from its airwaves, officials say, because they criticise the authorities.

Human rights activists have denounced the move as part of a systematic campaign to stifle dissent.

They say that anyone who is not singing the praises of President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is being silenced.

The performer came to fame during the Egyptian revolution three years ago with his songs of hope and freedom.

Mr Sisi was elected in May 2014, almost a year after huge demonstrations enabled him to remove his predecessor, President Mohammed Morsi, from office.

Since 2013 the government has imprisoned thousands of Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood supporters and other opposition figures. It has also used gunfire to suppress Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations.

Voice of the revolution

The BBC's Orla Guerin in Cairo says that Namira was a key voice of the revolution of 2011, appearing before huge crowds in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

But state radio's chairman, Abdel Rahman Rashad, told the BBC that a review had found the performer was not approved for broadcast - as all singers are required to be.

He added that any performer who criticises the authorities should not be on the airwaves.

Namira is the second cultural figure to get into political trouble in recent days.

One of Egypt's best known actors, Khaled Abol Naga, has been accused of treason for criticising the president.

A lawyer is bringing a private prosecution against him for "disturbing national security".

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