- By Robert ZeligerRobert Zeliger is News Editor of Foreign Policy.
Crowds have chanted it at rallies throughout the country these past few weeks, and thousands more have listened to it and shared it online. "Yalla Erhal Ya Bashar" (It’s time to leave, Bashar), seems to be the standout song of the Syrian uprising so far. With simple, catchy, sometimes profane lyrics, the song tells the Syrian leader to "screw" himself. "Freedom is near."
The story of the song’s author — Ibrahim Kashoush — took a sad turn with news that he may have been killed in a protest last Friday in Hama. Reporting out of Syria is hard to verify these days, but one Lebanese news site said his body was reportedly dumped in a nearby river Wednesday morning.
"The song has rallied people," said U.S.-based Syrian activist Ammar Abdulhamid. "It hit a nerve because it’s clearly and simply designed to tell Assad to leave. It’s very straightforward. And it uses some profane language."
Abdulhamid said there have been other protest songs before this one, but "Yalla Erhal Ya Bashar" stands out as the best.
Listen for yourself.
Kashoush was a little-known local singer in Hama before the revolution, according to Abdulhamid.
"When he did this song, he became sort of a hero," he said.
Abdulhamid — who believes the songwriter is in fact dead based on conversations with sources in Hama — said his murder adds a layer of poignancy.
For example, there’s this haunting lyric near the end: "To die but not be humiliated."