Renowned Palestinian artist Marwan Abdelhamid, recognized by the moniker Saint Levant, has been named the ‘Man of the Year’ for 2023 by GQ Middle East. During his acceptance speech at Shangri La in Paris on November 30, the singer humbly dedicated his win to the children of Palestine, as per video reshared by Dawn Images.
Marwan offered on a heartfelt note, “Today my body is in Paris but my heart is in Gaza. Gaza, the city I grew up in and the city for which I sing.” Hailing from Gaza, the musician’s bond with the city is a central theme across his music.
Accepting the honour, Marwan revealed how he was asked to refrain from expressing his sentiments on Palestine as Gaza and the West Bank continue to experience intense bombardment under Israel’s military operation. “They told me not to mention Palestine if I won this prize tonight,” he disclosed.
“But you cannot censor me and I cannot stay silent while more than 8000 Palestinian children have been murdered by the Israeli occupation that has been going on for 75 years,” the singer stated forthrightly. Hinting at the debated semantics of articulating Palestine and Israel’s tumultuous relations, Marwan insisted, “It’s not a conflict. It’s a 75-year-old occupation.”
He furthered on, “And if I had the time, I’d tell you the story of those Palestinian children. All these kids had a voice. A body, a face, a name and dreams like all of us. And this prize is for them.”
Earlier, GQ took to Instagram to announce the 23-year-old as the ‘Man of the Year’. Sharing a carousel post with Marwan’s photos and his quotes on Palestine, the publication called him a “captivating force” in the caption.
The caption went on to recognise his influence while centring his Palestinian identity. “Embodying a rich multicultural upbringing rooted in the struggles and triumphs of Palestine, Algeria, France, and Serbia, his [Saint Levant’s] music speaks volumes of resilience and hope.”
Citing his debut EP From Gaza, With Love released in March 2023 as an example, the caption included a quote from the man himself. “I’ve traveled across the world and yet still believe that Palestinians are some of the most loving people on this planet.”
The caption also commended Marwan for challenging ideas wrongly attached to the region. “I think in any musical movement, there are people that have to break some barriers,” stated Saint Levant.
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