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Singer from 'The Square' in shadows of Egypt's crackdown

Ramy Essam’s tunes were popular during the protests against President Hosni Mubarak, but his present stance has drawn threats of detention from the current regime.

Ramy Essam is best known for his heady performances in Tahrir Square during the 18 days of the January 25 Revolution. His song, "Irhal!' ("Leave!"), became an anthem for the mass street protests against Hosni Mubarak's 30-year dictatorship: "We are all united, we demand one thing: Leave! Leave! Leave!" He played hours before the "Battle of the Camel" — the surreal pro-Mubarak offensive on Tahrir Square — and during the clashes was hit on the head with a rock. A foreign camera crew filmed him there the next day, head bandaged and defiant: "We will stay here until Hosni Mubarak goes. … I will sing again, I will not stop singing until [he] goes."

Ramy's performances in Tahrir Square against Mubarak and then the Supreme Council of Armed Forces feature in the Oscar-nominated documentary, "The Square." It tells his story from the 18 days and beyond: his hopes for the revolution; guarding the entrances to the square; and then being picked out by soldiers during the brutal March 2011 clearance and taken to the Egyptian Museum where he was beaten and subjected to electrical shocks for hours.

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