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Tunisian singer honors Gazan poet with musical interpretation

(AA): Tunisian singer Emel Mathlouthi lent her voice to a poem by Gazan Islamic University professor, writer, and poet, Refaat Alareer, before he was killed in an Israeli attack in the Gaza Strip.

Alareer, who tried to convey the stories of those killed by Israel in Gaza through the “We Are Not Just Numbers” project, shared his poem, “If I Must Die,” before his death.

Mathlouthi performed the poem with a music composition and arrangement by Coskun Karademir.

Alareer was killed along with several members of his family in an airstrike at their home in the Shujaiyya neighborhood in December.

Alareer was one of the most prominent young Palestinian writers in English, known for his book “Gaza Writes Back,” in addition to hundreds of articles published in Arab, European and American media outlets.

He taught English literature and poetry at the Islamic University of Gaza for years and was one of the founders of the “We Are Not Numbers” initiative, which paired writers from Gaza with mentors abroad to help them write their stories in English.

Alareer’s verses, which resonated widely on social media and portrayed hope with the metaphor of a kite, are as follows:

If I must die,

you must live

to tell my story

to sell my things

to buy a piece of cloth

and some strings,

(make it white with a long tail)

so that a child, somewhere in Gaza

while looking heaven in the eye

awaiting his dad who left in a blaze—

and bid no one farewell

not even to his flesh

not even to himself—

sees the kite, my kite you made, flying up above

and thinks for a moment an angel is there

bringing back love

If I must die

let it bring hope

let it be a tale.