Shadia Mansour: Al Kufiyyeh (The Arabic Scarf)

This music video features Shadia Mansour, “the first lady of Arabic hip-hop,” and M-1, an American rapper and activist, rapping about the “kufiyyeh” (Arabic scarf) as a symbol of Arab identity and the Palestinian struggle. Although Mansour was born in London, her parents are Christian Palestinians from the Israeli cities of Haifa and Nazareth, and much of her music focuses on Middle East politics. The signature checkered headdress became a symbol of Palestinian nationalism in the 1930s, and has since gained popularity among Palestinian activists, but has also been appropriated as a fashion statement, as is criticized in the lyrics of the song, provided below in English. 

The Kuffiyeh
“Good morning, cousins; y’all welcome, come in
What would you like us to serve you,
Arab blood or tears from our eyes?”
I think that’s how they expected us to receive them
That’s why they got embarrassed when they realized their mistake
That’s why we rocked the kuffiyeh, the white and black
Now these dogs are startin’ to wear it as a trend
No matter how they design it, no matter how they change its color,
The kuffiyeh is Arabic, and it will stay Arabic
The gear we rock, they want it; our culture, they want it;
Our dignity, they want it; everything that’s ours, they want it;
Half your country, half your home; why, why?
No, I tell ’em
Stealin’ something that ain’t theirs,
I can’t allow it
They imitatin’ us in what we wear, wear; this land is not enough for them.
What else do you want?
They’re greedy for Jerusalem.
Learn how to say “human beings”
Before y’all ever rocked a kuffiyeh, we here to remind ’em who we are
And whether they like it or not, this is our clothing style
That’s why we rock the kuffiyeh, cuz it’s patriotic
The kuffiyeh, the kuffiyeh is Arabic
That’s why we rock the kuffiyeh, our essential identity
The kuffiyeh, the kuffiyeh is Arabic
Come on, throw up the kuffiyeh (throw that kuffiyeh up for me)
The kuffiyeh, the kuffiyeh is Arabic
Throw it up!
Come on, Greater Syria!
The kuffiyeh is Arabic, and it will stay Arabic
There’s none yet like the Arab people
Show me which other nation in the world was more influential
The picture is clear: we are the cradle of civilization
Our history and cultural heritage testify to our existence
That’s why I rocked the Palestinian gear,
From Haifa, Jenin, Jabal al Nar to Ramallah
Let me see the kuffiyeh, the white and red
Let me throw it up in the sky;
I’m Arab, and my tongue creates earthquakes
I shake the words of war
Listen, I’m Shadia Mansour, and the gear I’m rockin’ is my identity
Since the day I was born raisin’ people’s awareness been my responsibility
But I was raised between fear and evil; between two areas,
Between the grudging and the poor,
I seen life from both sides
God bless the kuffiyeh; however you rock me, wherever you see me, I stay true to my origins
M1 Verse (words in brackets unsure of)
Some of Y’all think it’s a trend, a fashion statement
Disgustingly I spit on the pavement
It’s basic.
Y’all know I bang for my flag
My bandanna ain’t no rag
The Kuffiyeh ain’t no scarf it’s the heart of the movement
The symbolism is resistance
No coincidence that you can see the RGB in it
(Spanish words), ain’t it beautiful?
I say this in Spanish, the solidarity, the feelin’s is mutual
(Meen Wahal) that’s M1 in Arabic
I’m pro-Palestinian does that make me a terrorist?
You can catch me in Gaza, Hayfa or Rhamalla
But I’m still just (borotoolo o raballa)
So when I rep with Shadia
We ride with our middle fingers up to the Zionists
Because we don’t give a f**k, it’s justice
So tie that thing around your head and ride
Wave it in the air and let me know what side you’re on
Yeah the Kuffiyeh is Arabic (guerillo)
Yeah it’s M1 in solidarity ya feel me?
With Shadia from the ghetto to Gaza I keep it RBG’d up
Bang for my flag