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hearts and minds

State Department Exporting Country Music to the Middle East

Kareem Salama is an American country-music singer, born in Oklahoma to Egyptian parents, currently on a seven-month tour — of Morocco, Kuwait, Bahrain, Syria, Israel, and Jordan, sponsored by the State Department. Salama sings “Country Eastern Music,” country music tricked out with the occasional lyric translated from the work of a medieval Muslim theologian (like "I want to live in a land called paradise/I want to go the Valley of the Kings." According to the State Department, up to something unexpectedly innovative here, Salama is “designed to bring to audiences in the Middle East a rising American musical talent, representative of America's diversity of faith and heritage, who can serve as a bridge between Americans and the peoples of the Middle East.” We seriously wonder what Toby Keith would have to say about this.

Arab-American takes country music act to the Middle East [CNN via Daily Swarm]