With its catchy beats and in-your-face lyrics, Egypt’s hugely popular electro “mahraganat” music has found millions of fans in the conservative country – but now officials are pulling the plug. “Never call it mahraganat again,” came an edict from Egypt’s musicians’ union. “Anyone who writes the word mahraganat on his videos will have his name immediately crossed out,” union head and former star crooner Mustafa Kamel said. Relying heavily on computer-generated and synthesised beats, mahraganat – often known as “electro-shaabi” (popular electro) – is a far cry from the pop melodies that normally rule the radio waves across the Arab world. Its blunt lyrics tackle topics including love, power and money, booming across class barriers through nearly every speaker in the country, where more than half the population is under 25 years old. With its roots in impoverished urban neighbourhoods, the genre has often sparked the ire of critics as “low-brow”, and social conservatives have long derided it as “uncouth”. But its songs have often overtaken traditional media darlings on pop charts, skyrocketing artists from low-income areas to concert venues and luxurious wedding halls, with some playing to sold-out crowds across the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia. As part of its latest campaign to “preserve public taste”, the musicians’ union is splitting singers from the abolished genre into two categories.