Famous Algerian rap singer Lotfi Double Kanon took his fans by surprise when he started giving religious sermons since the start of the holy month of Ramadan.
Videos of Lotfi Belamri, known as Lotfi Double Kanon, preaching to Algerian youths on his official website and on the video-sharing website You Tube surprised fans and critics alike and raised questions about the singer's intentions to retire.
The near absence of preaching programs in the Algerian dialect is what encouraged Double Kanon to start his own sermons under the title Ramadaneyat.
Sermons at mosques only
"I was more encouraged when I realized that the majority of my fans are irreligious youths who do not have the proper guidance," he told Al Arabiya.
According to Lotfi Double Kanon, the activities of preachers in Algeria are almost confined to mosques, so youths who do not frequent mosques regularly do not get the chance to learn the teachings of Islam.
"Sermons given in mosques are also in classical Arabic which makes them inaccessible for a considerable number of young Algerians."
The new project, Double Kanon pointed out, is not only for his compatriots inside Algeria but also abroad since many of them are not familiar with their religion.
"They need to learn about the true Islam which is different from the image the Western media tries to convey."
Double Kanon argued that the idea of preaching is in line with his singing career as many claim since both carry a message.
"Since the beginning of my career, I have said that I have a message. Preaching is a continuation of this message."
Before starting his project, Double Kanon posted a poll on his website, which thousands of fans visit everyday, asking his fans if they like the idea.
"When they voted for it, I found myself setting up a room in my house and recording sermons about Islam with a special focus on Ramadan and the meaning of fasting."
Double Kanon added that he wanted to teach youths about the essence of fasting and how it is not only about abstention from eating and drinking but from committing all kinds of sins whether during fasting or after breaking the fast.
Public and official reactions
Regarding the reaction of Algerian people to his project and their reservations about having a singer preach, Double Kanon said there is no contradiction between preaching and singing.
"What I preach is already in religious books. The difference is the language that is easier for youths to understand."
Double Kanon added that he hasn't so far seen any young Algerian preacher who took a similar initiative and targeted youths who do not go to mosques.
Despite accusation that his project is sheer propaganda and claims that a singer cannot be a preacher, Double Kanon was pleasantly to see the increasing number of people who visit his website to see the videos of the sermons.
"I have until now gotten more than 200,000 visitors from different parts of the world."
He also received a call for an official at the Ministry of Religious Affairs to thank him for his initiative to raise religious awareness among Algerian youths.
Double Kanon's project raised questions among critics as to whether preaching is a step towards retirement like what several singers did.
"I have no intention to retire because I absolutely believe in what I'm doing."
Double Kanon, who currently lives in Paris, is involved in several charity projects. He is taking part in an initiative to distribute 10,000 copybooks among school children at the start of the new academic year.
He also took part in a previous initiative to give away lambs on the Greater Bairam to the poor residents of his hometown Annaba.
(Translated from the Arabic by Sonia Farid)