Mashrou’ Leila has done it again, and this time courtesy the work done by Clandestino Films and FP7/McCann Beirut on the raging issue of women equality and women rights in Lebanon.
The video titled ‘Roman’, orchestrated by Mashrou Leila, self-consciously toys with the intersection of gender with race by celebrating and championing a coalition of Arab and Muslim women; styled to over-articulate their ethnic background, in a manner more typically employed by Western media to victimize them.
The name Mashrou’ Leila roughly translates to ‘Overnight Project’. The band’s rousing electro-pop anthems about political freedoms, LGBT rights, race, religion and modern Arabic identity have challenged the status quo of the Middle Eastern pop industry.
Mashrou’ Leila has won fans worldwide, and is the first Middle Eastern band that made it to the cover of Rolling Stone.
The video seeks to disturb the dominant global narrative of hyper-secularized (white) feminism, which increasingly positions itself as incompatible with Islam and the Arab world, celebrating the various modalities of Middle East feminism.
The video purposefully attempts to revert the position of the male musicians as the heroes of the narrative, not only by subjecting them to the female gaze of the director but also by representing them as individuals who take the backseat as the coalition moves forward.
While the lyrics of the verses discuss betrayal, struggle, and conflict, the video revolves around the lyrical pivot in the chorus: ‘aleihum’ (charge!) treating oppression, not as a source of victimhood, but as the fertile ground from which resistance can be weaponized.
The video is spreading organically across Lebanon and the Middle East, fuelled by the band’s increasing regional and global popularity, and the timeliness of the message.