Birth of Leila Murad, Egyptian Singer and Actress
In 1932, Murad made her first on-screen appearance in the film Al-Dahaya (The Victims). She successfully released multiple songs in Arabic, including “Hairana Leh Bein El-Eloub” (Why can’t you choose from among lovers) and “Howa el dala’a ya’ani khessam” (Does dalliance mean avoiding me). According to Hanan Hammad, author of a biography on Murad, Murad’s music was “fluid between different genres to impress different audiences.” Due to “her voice and image,” said Hammad, “she becomes a national icon. Everyone recognized her.” Later, Murad starred in several films with director Togo Mizrahi, which secured her position as a star.
The attention Murad received, however, was not always positive. Although she converted to Islam in 1946, she was constantly scrutinized because of the tension surrounding the 1948 Israeli War of Independence. In 1953, Murad was chosen to serve as the official singer representing the Egyptian revolution. Unfortunately, allegations emerged accusing her of donating money to the Israeli army upon a visit to the country. These allegations led some Arab radio stations to boycott her songs out of fear of her disloyalty. Murad rejected these accusations, asserting “I am an Egyptian Muslim.” The Egyptian government, valuing Murad as the face of Egyptian popular culture, eventually dropped the charges due to a lack of evidence. Although the government treated Murad graciously, the same treatment was not given to most Egyptian Jews. Between 1967 and 1970, hundreds of Jewish-Egyptian men were deported, including Murad’s brother.
In 1955, Murad stepped down from her acting career to focus on a new marriage and pregnancy. She passed away in 1995, leaving behind a legacy that lives on among Arab audiences today.
“Leila Murad.” Historical Society of Jews from Egypt, Accessed February 17, 2023.
Yoxall, Collin. “The Life and Times of Layla Murad.” AddRan College of Liberal Arts, March 3, 2022.
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Jewish Women's Archive. "Birth of Leila Murad, Egyptian Singer and Actress." (Viewed on December 8, 2023) <https://jwa.org/thisweek/feb/17/1918/birth-leila-murad-egyptian-singer-and-actress>.