By Geoffrey Clarfield
September 23, 2011
At a recent conference on ethnomusicology held in the U.S., I met an Arab researcher. His paper on traditional Arab music was indecipherable and full of postmodern jargon. After he finished his presentation, he confided to me in private, "We have to be careful what we say about music -- the fundamentalists are everywhere." And they certainly are. The tyrannies that control the Islamic world are at war with music and musicians, and they seem to be winning.
Jonas Otterbeck, a Swedish expert on the status of musicians in the Islamic world, writes, "States and local authorities have taken action against heavy metal musicians, female singers, music, videos and public concerts. Islamist and conservative Islamic organizations ... try to disturb and breakup [sic] concerts, demand censorship on recordings, or call for the punishment of individuals for being blasphemous. At times musicians are killed or attacked physically[.]"
When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, they tried to ban all music based on a Hadith (saying of the Prophet) that states, "Those who listen to music and songs in this world will on the Day of Judgment have molten lead poured into their ears." And so, inspired by the Taliban, a radical Islamic group kidnapped the well-known Algerian Berber singer, Younes Matoub. Before they killed him, he was told, "You are the enemy of God...you and your songs[.]"