Gaza. Is. Metal!


Johann Hari finds out what the kids in the Middle East are listening to:

I first realised that my never-quite-abandoned adolescent taste for heavy metal had a political edge in – of all places – the Jaballya refugee camp in Gaza. I was interviewing teenagers about their strangled lives and expected to hear the usual Hamasnik lines reeled back at me. But instead, they kept using words from Metallica and Slipknot to explain how they felt. “I am dying to live/Cry out/I’m trapped under ice,” one of them said. They showed me their carefully-stashed CDs and T-shirts – liable to be seized by Hamas-militia at any time – and begged me to send more.

After I returned home, I discovered this was no anomaly. It turns out that the biggest market for Heavy Metal outside the US is across the Muslim world. In underground car parks in Tehran, in barns in Peshawar, in graveyards in Cairo, Muslim mosh-pits are springing up. We are constantly told that people born in Muslim countries are a homogenous sharia-seeking mass, represented by foul mullahs. But in his study, Heavy Metal Islam, Alan LeVine gives a startling statistic: in Morocco, only two forces in living memory have brought out crowds of more than 200,000: the Islamist opposition, and heavy metal bands raging against religion. To head-bang to a band called Deicide may be inane fun in London; in Iran or Egypt or Pakistan it is a strikingly brave political act.

This is absolutely fascinating and bears more research for future writing. Hari also has some interesting stuff to say about the rebel’s roots in country (the good stuff, not the tripe that passes now). Which, if anyone ever needs a reminder, Mr. Cash is more than happy to provide:

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