Sherlock Shaabullah


So now that Nasser's the butt of sardonic Arab jokes, Saddam Antar Hussein's in jail, Arafat is mourned but unmissed even by Palestinians, and Syria's reduced to the role of a murderous Fredonia, who remains as the leading voice of pan-Arabism in a post-Arabist age? I nominate the preposterous Egyptian singer, Shaaban Abdel-Rahim.

Shaabullah, as his fans know him, has become your basic go-to guy for Western reporters who want to reveal just how unpopular the US has become in the Middle East. In fact, he's your basic cultural bottom-feeder who has kept his career going by wedding pop and paranoia.

In his latest release, reports AFP, "he laments the assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri while exonerating Syria of all responsibility for his death."

"Lebanon and Syria are one," he sings, "and none had a hand in Hariri's murder." So whose hand does Sherlock Shaabullah discern? Guess. (Hint, as if you needed one: His breakthrough hit was "I Hate Israel.")

The Lebanese have done videos about Hariri's murder, too, and they are rather different. One is noted here (as is a fairly desperate Arab nationalist group video).