11-02-2005, 03:17 AM #1
Highway to hell (Alex2 read this!)
Heavy metal fans in some Islamic countries don't just fear noise complaints from neighbours. They risk being imprisoned as devil worshippers, writes Brian Whitaker
Monday June 2, 2003
There's no accounting for taste, but if you want to wear a black t-shirt and listen to heavy metal music, is it the government's business to stop you? If you get a piercing or a tattoo, or dance like Michael Jackson, is the fabric of society going to be threatened?
The answer, if you live in parts of the Middle East, appears to be yes - at least as far as the authorities are concerned.
Suppressing acts of youthful non-conformity is a popular form of political escapism. It provides governments and the public alike with an entertaining diversion from real issues such as unemployment, corruption and administrative incompetence.
In Morocco last March, 14 supposed "devil worshippers" received jail sentences ranging from three months to one year for "undermining the Muslim faith" and "possessing objects contrary to good morals".
Nine of the men, who were aged between 21 and 36, belonged to local heavy metal bands - Nekros, Infected Brain and Reborn - and the rest were fans. Among the objects exhibited in court as being contrary to good morals was a black T-shirt with heavy metal symbols on it. This prompted the judge to comment that "normal people go to concerts in a suit and tie".
Judges have a knack of saying fatuously out-of-touch things on these occasions, and the remark was reminiscent of a famous obscenity case in Britain during the 1960s - over the publication of D H Lawrence's novel, Lady Chatterley's Lover - when the judge asked: "Is this the type of book you would want your butler or housemaid to read?"
The Moroccan sentences brought immediate protests. A concert was organised to support the accused, a campaign website and 500 people - including students, musicians, teachers and parents of the jailed men - held a demonstration outside the parliament building in Rabat. Some of them made a point of wearing black T-shirts.
The independent weekly magazine TelQuel also joined the fray, denouncing the case as absurd. Driss Ksikes, its editor, commented: "Our judicial system needs psychologists if it doesn't understand that young people are by essence subversive and like to shock."
A few weeks later the case went to appeal and 11 of the 14 were acquitted. The remaining three had their sentences cut, allowing them to be released immediately.
"I am happy - partially," one of the defence lawyers said afterwards. "I would have preferred for all the defendants to be acquitted. We don't want this sort of trial to tarnish the image of Morocco."
Morocco is by no means the only place where such things happen. In Beirut a few weeks ago, plainclothes police raided the Acid nightclub looking for "devil worshippers".
Lebanese devil worshippers are easily recognised. According to one security official, they are young men with long hair and beards who "listen to hard rock music, drink mind-altering alcoholic cocktails and take off their black shirts, dancing bare-chested".
A report in the Lebanese newspaper the Daily Star said the raid - in which about 10 people were arrested - was personally supervised by the interior minister, Elias Murr.
Witnesses told the paper that security forces beat up several clubbers and went around demanding people's identification. Some of the men (apparently not those who had been dancing bare-chested) were ordered to pull up their shirts so the police could check if they had any tattoos or body piercings.
One young man hauled in for questioning had a tattoo on his arm. He told the Daily Star it didn't symbolise anything in particular. He had no idea what the raid was about until they asked him about devil worshipping activities.
"I was asked about whether hard-rock music is played at the club," he said. "But I've only heard house and Arabic music being played there."
It was the third time the club had been raided in the space of a year - though this may not be entirely due to its choice of music. Looking up the Acid club on the internet shows that it also has a reputation as Lebanon's leading "lesbigay" establishment. ******
"It's packed on Fridays and Saturdays, mostly gay men, some lesbians, a few fag hags," one visitor reports. Other regulars at the club include the Police des Moeurs (vice squad) in plain clothes. You can tell when they arrive, according to one account, because the bouncers move on to the dance floor and physically separate couples who are getting too close.
Tattoos - especially the styles popular in the west - are rarely seen in the Arab world and piercings on men are even rarer, giving rise to all kinds of speculation about the few who have them.
In Yemen, I once encountered a young journalist who had got his ear pierced during a stay in United States - which, for a Yemeni, was a subversively risqué thing to do.
Of course, he took the ring out before returning to Yemen but it left a tiny hole in his ear-lobe which aroused much surreptitious interest in Sana'a.
"Have you noticed his ear?" one of his colleagues whispered to me excitedly over lunch. "He had it pierced in America."
What is probably the most bizarre heavy-metal-and-satanism case occurred in Egypt in 1997 when state security police, armed with machine guns and satanically clad in masks and black uniforms, dragged about 70 youngsters - some as young as 16 - from their beds in a series of dawn raids.
They took away posters from bedroom walls, CDs and tapes ranging from Guns 'n' Roses to Beethoven's fifth symphony and, in one household, a black t-shirt with a Bugs Bunny design.
The youngsters - who mostly came from well-to-do homes - were carted off to the cells to be fingerprinted, photographed and strip-searched. During interrogation they were asked such questions as "Do you skin cats?", "Do you spit on graves?" and "Do you hold pagan sacrifices?"
Two weeks after the arrests, the public prosecutor ordered their release from jail for lack of evidence. But some time later the Cairo Times reported that education ministry officials were still sifting through libraries and video collections in private schools for traces of anything that might promote devil worship. "Bob Marley and Nirvana T-shirts are still on the blacklist," the paper said.
After writing about censorship in Saudi Arabia for Guardian Unlimited (Censor sensibility, May 19), I have been exchanging emails with a reader called Mohammed in Jeddah. I asked him if any heavy metal fans in the kingdom have fallen foul of the religious police.
"No," he replied. "None of this satanism stuff has been going on around here. Saudis aren't really into rock and heavy metal anyway."
Instead, Mohammed's pet grumble is about the banning of Michael Jackson. This, he wrote, "is one of the things that bugs me most". The authorities even black out Jackson's name when his songs appear on compilation albums.
"In the 1980s," Mohammed continued, "Saudis started dressing like him, copying his hairstyle and doing moonwalks on the roundabouts. This is the reason most people give me about why his stuff is not allowed here.
"He has been to the country before though, sometime in the 1990s. He was on TV and Saudi kids were asking him if the not-liking-Arabs thing is true and he went on about loving everyone and whatever."
Mohammed asked if I could get a definitive explanation for the ban. Well, I can't, but I did discover a couple of other intriguing facts.
The Jackson family originally belonged to a Christian sect, the Jehovah's Witnesses, but in 1989 Michael's brother Jermaine converted to Islam and seems to be a great fan of Saudi Arabia.
There's an interview with Jermain about his conversion on the internet together with a picture of him wearing Saudi-style robes.
The other curious fact is that Michael Jackson formed a business partnership with a Saudi prince, Walid bin Talal, a few years ago, with the aim of promoting "family values" entertainment. One of the company's first projects was to sponsor Jackson's worldwide series of concerts, the HIStory Tour.
"Michael Jackson and I share the same entertainment interests and the same essential values," Prince Walid was quoted as saying at the time - though it's unclear whether he has since changed his mind.
From Morocco, through Egypt and Lebanon to Saudi Arabia, there is a pattern in all these musical confrontations. The issue is not whether the musicians are wholesome or their music in good taste. It's one symptom of a much bigger problem - the presumption of the authorities in trying to control people's choices and lifestyles.
Sometimes the authorities claim they are only responding to public concern. The Moroccan arrests were prompted by a series of lurid newspaper articles about "devil worship" which appear not to have been properly checked out before the police pounced.
In Egypt, the accompanying media frenzy about satanism was whipped up by a TV documentary, The Alarm Bells Ring. According to the Egyptian weekly al-Arabi the programme was not produced independently but was entirely the work of the interior ministry's public relations department.
Underlying it all, though, is the pressure to conform to "Islamic" values as determined by the most narrow-minded members of Arab society. Culture, in their eyes, is not something that lives and breathes, but a fossil that must be protected from innovation - and especially from foreign influences.
The spread of Big Macs around the world may be a case of cultural imperialism since the burgers are designed to taste the same wherever you eat them, but music is a different matter: it develops by borrowing and adapting. What passes today for western music has absorbed ideas from all sorts of places, and it also changes when it transfers to an Arab culture. You have only to listen to a few snatches of music from a Moroccan rap group to see what happens: yes, it's rap, but it's also distinctively Moroccan.
The Arab victims of the musical police are almost always young, reasonably well off and highly educated - which means that potentially they have a lot to offer their countries in the future. Often, though, they end up emigrating out of sheer frustration and their talents are lost. Since official interference with their lifestyles affects them directly, it becomes a greater source of disillusionment than the failure of government policies or the lack of democracy. It also undermines the credibility of the authorities more generally, especially when they can't tell the difference between hard rock and house.
*****Hey Mguy u go there often???
FYI Alex2 , this is one incident , others were sent to jail in unknown places with no records , no info about them nothing.......
11-02-2005, 07:04 PM #2
There is a Sharia's law that the prophet Mohamed imposed
"thou shall never listen to ****ing noise pollution coming from the devil instrument made in the Shaolin temple or thy redneck country to be famed, shall noise pollution is annoying to anyone praying on fridays"
11-02-2005, 07:05 PM #3
now imagine arabic heavy metal!!!!!!!
YALL YALLLAAAAAAAAA HABIBI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
11-02-2005, 07:18 PM #4
fag shit thread
11-02-2005, 08:24 PM #5Originally Posted by MilitiaGuy
11-02-2005, 08:29 PM #6Originally Posted by 3Vandoo
and btw, NO1 here composes/sings arabic metal muisc , they have originals (in english) and sometimes do other bands like hypocrisy , deftones , cannibal corpse , cradle of filth, dimmu borgir and so on.....
11-02-2005, 08:31 PM #7Originally Posted by IronFreakX
11-02-2005, 08:34 PM #8Originally Posted by CAUSASIAN
11-02-2005, 08:35 PM #9Originally Posted by IronFreakX
11-02-2005, 08:43 PM #10Originally Posted by CAUSASIAN
U his ****ing boyfriend or smth?
11-02-2005, 08:47 PM #11
okie bunch of chimps
im blocking this for the sake of the muslim heavy metal scene
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