From the Tunisian fruit vendor’s desperate last act to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Arab youth–both Muslim and Christian–have demonstrated their intolerance for the status quo. A new level of youth engagement in Arab politics has taken shape, and the images of these massive demonstrations have disproved a consistent, and largely western fear of Islamic extremism overtaking most young Muslim minds in the Middle East.
This year’s Christmas celebrations in Iraq were subdued. Many of Iraq’s Christian citizens have fled after the massacre in the Syriac Cathedral of Baghdad where gunmen from a group linked to Al-Qaeda took over 100 hostages. In the end, 44 were killed. The fact that Christian citizens in Iraq fear for their life and have become the targets of violence by people claiming to act in the name of Islam troubles me. It is another example of a group of Muslims taking Islam hostage to put forward their own political agendas.
The first radio program in the Inside Islam series was “Heavy Metal Islam” on September 25, 2008. One of our guests on that show, Suroosh Alvi, co-directed a the documentary Heavy Metal in Baghdad. In the film (which is now available to view online for free) we meet Acrassicauda, the only heavy metal band in Iraq. The band has now moved to New Jersey after being exiled in Turkey.
Acrassicauda resurfaced on NPR’s Fresh Air in an interview on March 17th. Since the time of the documentary, the world and band members of Acrassicauda have seen the country continue to crumble after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The new goals of the Obama administration in Iraq include restoring stability to the government and helping cope with the country’s refugee crisis.
Do you think that will mean that bands and other people who have left the country will return and help stabilize the country as well? What do you think about the situation in Iraq today? Do you believe that heavy metal is unislamic? Should heavy metal play a part in reconstructing Iraq as well? Please leave your thoughts in a comment below or send us a message via email.
Heavy Metal Islam on Here on Earth (25 Sept 2008)
Today the first Here on Earth radio program for Inside Islam airs at 3 p.m. Central Time. There are several ways you can participate in this exciting initiative.
Update: Podcast of the show posted 10-10-2008
Scholar and professional musician Mark LeVine traveled across the Middle East playing with and studying heavy metal bands in the area after the September 11 attacks in 2001. He was surprised by what he found.
That the possibility of a Muslim heavy-metal scene came as a total surprise to me only underscored how much I still had to learn about Morocco, and the Muslim world more broadly, even after a dozen years studying, traveling, and living in it. If there could be such a thing as a Heavy Metal Islam, I thought, then perhaps the future was far brighter than most observers of the Muslim world imagined less than a year after September 11, 2001 (Source).
Mark with Cafe Mira and Hassan Hakmoun (Flickr)
Read more after the break…
Meet Acrassicauda, Iraq’s only heavy metal band.
In anticipation of Here on Earth’s first broadcast for Inside Islam on September 25, here is the trailer for a documentary called Heavy Metal in Baghdad. Acrassicauda, a group of young Iraqis, form the only heavy metal band in the city. The film follows their struggle for freedom to play music and stay alive. The younger generation of Muslims in Iraq and across the Middle East has seen the fastest growth in generations. Politically active and charged with changing the future landscape, bands like Acrassicauda fight for a more open and creative solution to the nation’s challenges.
Heavy Metal in Baghdad Trailer
“If I didn’t play drums as hard as I can, I was going to kill someone.”
Source (Heavy Metal in Baghdad)