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Islamism and Heavy Metal

Today's post is a guest blog from Mark LeVine, Professor of Middle Eastern history, culture and Islamic Studies at UC Irvine and author, most recently, of Heavy Metal
Islam
: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam (Three Rivers Press/Random House)

By Mark Levine

Heavy metal has had a more powerful and controversial appeal than perhaps any other element of Western culture that has taken hold in the Muslim world. It might seem strange that a genre of music long associated with sex, drugs and even Satan worship should be popular in Muslim countries. But heavy metal can't be reduced to the "hair" or "glam" metal epitomized by one-time MTV staple bands such as Motley Crue or Quiet Riot. Instead, the much harsher sound of death, doom and other forms of extreme metal are winning a growing following across the Muslim world.

This is partly because the subjects these and other extreme metal bands deal with - death without meaning, the futility of violence, the corruption of power - correspond well to the issues confronting hundreds of millions of young Muslims today, the majority of whom live under authoritarian governments in societies torn by inequality, underdevelopment and various types of violent conflict.

As one of the founders of the Moroccan metal scene, the Sorbonne-educated Reda Zine, explained to me when I first met him: "We play heavy metal because our lives are heavy metal."

Middle Eastern metal isn't merely an outlet for youthful frustration. It offers fans a sense of community, "affirming life" through its seemingly morbid focus on death, creating a space outside of government control to express identities that don't conform to those sponsored or desired by undemocratic regimes and conservative religious establishments.

The characteristics that make metal increasingly popular across the Muslim world are the same qualities that have long made Islamist movements popular as well. And in a region with the world's highest percentage of young people (in many countries more than half of the population is under 25 years old) there is a huge constituency for the kind of community and solidarity that both metal and Islamist movements offer. In Morocco, for example, only two groups could bring 100,000 people into the streets: the rock band Hoba Hoba Spirit and the semi-illegal social-political religious organization, the Justice and Spirituality movement.

Certainly, the region's various religious movements have a far larger base of support than rock, metal, hip-hop or other forms of pop music, despite pop music's rapidly growing fan base. But with festivals in Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey and Dubai attracting tens of thousands of fans, and a growing list of music video channels catering to the youth demographic (Pakistan alone has upwards of a dozen 24-hour video channels), there's no doubt that rock music is playing an increasingly important role in shaping the identities and attitudes of young people around the Muslim world.

Historically, Islamists and metalheads have been on opposite ends of the political and cultural spectrum. Conservative religious establishments have supported and even encouraged crackdowns against the metal scenes in Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon and Iran. In Egypt's case, the Grand Mufti actually called for the death penalty for the hundred-plus metalheads arrested in 1997 in the region's first full-blown "Satanic metal affair," if the accused didn't repent from their "apostasy."

In fact, Middle Eastern metal was one of the first victims of such strategies of "repressive tolerance," as the German philosopher Herbert Marcuse labeled the phenomenon. The charges have been risible; evidence included Chicago Bulls caps (the bull horns were said to represent Satan) and ashtrays in the shape of pentagrams (in Morocco, no less, where the pentagram is on the nation's flag). But their impact was powerful. Indeed, musicians' reactions to the Satanic metal incidents tell us a lot about how deep the authoritarian culture is embedded in particular countries.

In Lebanon and Iran, however, such episodes did little to dampen the enthusiasm for metal. In Morocco fans actually fought back, staging mass protests, playing concerts in front of courthouses, and pressuring the government until the verdicts were overturned. Indeed, heavy metal is responsible for perhaps the Arab World's only successful civil protest movement in recent memory.

In recent years, most governments (with the exception of Iran and Saudi
Arabia) have grown more tolerant of their countries' metal scenes, although the price of greater freedom to play metal has often been a growing de-politicization of inherently subversive subcultures. Some governments even co-sponsor metal festivals (with an even bigger stake being taken by Arab and Western multinational corporations, who have equally little interest in encouraging dissent.) This is occurring at the same time that governments are intensifying crackdowns on other movements, particularly against young activists from Islamist groups such as Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood or Morocco's Justice and Spirituality movement.

Pitting two seemingly opposite poles of youth culture against each other is a time-tested strategy to divide and rule, but it's worked well in this case because the memory of religious support for the crackdowns against them is still fresh in the minds of most metalheads. Indeed, the few times I've managed to bring metalheads and young Islamists together in the same room it has been the metalheads who've squirmed in their seats, anxious to leave, while the religious activists -- many with the same biographies (college educated or MBAs, fluent in English and/or French, working in the IT sector) -- were happy to stay and talk.

What is increasingly clear is that heavy metal is playing an important and potentially crucial role in a region still dominated by undemocratic governments that routinely arrest and even torture people for expressing political or social views that deviate from the prescribed norm.

Perhaps this is why the emerging generation of Islamist activists has become far more tolerant of their metal-loving peers than were their elders. With everyone facing the same struggles against authoritarianism, an increasing number of religiously motivated political activists has figured out that, in the words of a 25-year old Muslim Brother in Cairo, "Only when I'm ready to fight for everyone's rights can I hope to have mine." In fact, most every religious activist I've met under 40 has answered an emphatic "Yes"
when I've asked them if one could be a metalhead and a good Muslim at the same time.

This belief is supported by the reality that the majority of metalheads I know consider themselves good Muslims; many even pray five times a day. As the teenage musician sons of jailed Egyptian presidential candidate Ayman Nour put it, "We love to go to the mosque for Juma' (Friday afternoon) prayers for three hours and then go play black metal for four hours."

Perhaps one reason for this dynamic is that the experiences and practices surrounding metal culture fulfill many of the same needs as religion. Sitting next to Reda Zine when he first told me why he loved metal was a young Iraqi Shia religious scholar, Sheikh Anwar, known as the "Elastic Sheikh" because of his willingness to combine western and Islamic ideas to better serve his Baghdad flock. As soon as Zine finished, he exclaimed, "I don't like metal; not because I think it's haram (forbidden), but because it's not my kind of music. But when we get together chanting and marching, banging our fists against our chests and pumping them in the air, we're doing metal, too."

Salman Ahmed, a Pakistani rock star and founder of the genre of "Sufi rock," agreed, explaining that one of the reasons he's received death threats from hardcore Islamists in his country is precisely that "we're competing for the same crowd." As important, however, is his revelation that many of the mullahs who publicly lash out at his group, Junoon, ask him for autographs and admit to knowing the words to his songs when no one else is around.

Most interesting, more than a few times, it has turned out that today's twenty- or thirty-something Islamists were yesterday's teenage metalheads. And the transition from one subculture to the other was often not as jarring as one might imagine; nor did it involve a move from the fantasy violence of extreme metal to the real violence of al- Qa'eda, as apparently occurred when a metalhead from Orange County, California named Adam Gadahn converted to Islam, joined al-Qa'eda and became the infamous "Azzam the American," appearing in numerous propaganda videos for the group.

At its base, a growing cadre of both metalheads and the progressive-minded young Islamists are searching for alternative yet authentic identities to those offered by sclerotic and autocratic regimes and a monochrome globalization.

Ultimately, the best exemplars of Middle Eastern metal and of activist Islam share many attributes: they look critically at their societies, refusing unquestioningly to buy into the myths and shibboleths put forward by political or spiritual leaders; they are positive and forward-thinking rather than nihilistic or based solely on resistance; they create bonds of community that stand against state-sponsored repression; and they reveal the diversity of contemporary Islam.


Mark LeVine is Professor of Middle Eastern history, culture and Islamic Studies at UC Irvine and author, most recently, of Heavy Metal
Islam
: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam (Three Rivers Press/Random House)

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Comments (41)

Yolanda:

Very interesting article. I'm new to Middle Eastern/Islamic culture and I thought this culture didn't encourage its young people to like heavy metal or any kind of hard rock music whatsoever. I thought they liked "pop" music, or a kind of rock labeled as "soft rock" better as a Western outside influence in an effort to "modernize" their societies.
I'm not a fan of "heavy metal" rock not because it might be Pagan, but because its anti-Christian (I'm a practicing Christian) in most of its lyrics, as well as its hard style. I woudln't embrace any musical style that is anti any other religion as well.

George Manuelian:

"A very interesting story. I wonder if you would consider correlating this with the new study (I can't remember where) that has linked different musical genres with different mental illnesses. I heard the story and findings on NPR."

Yes, equating Islam with mental illness and Islamic metal fandom with an obsession with psychopathic death, violence and (by proxy) terrorism.

This jew Levine who authored this article obviously had an agenda while writing this article. Moreover, I see this as yet another example of international jewry's influence and control of the global media.

George Manuelian
Atherton, CA

Observer:

Somali says:
“The reason why Arabs LOVE white man's culture is, I believe, they have a Slave mentality. They have a need to follow someone!!!”.
Is it truly their love to imitate the West that gives them "a slave mentality" or is it because they are selling your tribesmen in their slave markets of Jeddah and Khartoum till this day that give them a slave trader mentality?

Jerome :

A very interesting story. I wonder if you would consider correlating this with the new study (I can't remember where) that has linked different musical genres with different mental illnesses. I heard the story and findings on NPR.

mark levine:

thanks for all the comments. if people want a quick way to hear/see a bunch of middle eastern/north african metal and hiphop groups, you can go to my website, http://heavymetalislam.net and go to the "media" page, for which the link is on the lower left side of the home page, and there are links to my youtube play list.

junoon is certainly indebted to led zep. who isn't? but salman ahmed got into guitar after seeing zep at madison square garden in 1977 (lucky kid...). i write a lot about the influence of various bands in the book. and yes, pink floyd was and remains huge. in fact, in lebanon, one of my best friends used to get through the nights of the civil war by blasting pink floyd in his headphones to drone out the bombs and gunfire.

as for whether or not metal or any non-religious music is haram (forbidden) or not, i have studied the sources and believe that it is certainly not forbidden, and most of the scholars who i discuss in the book feel the same way. but certainly the idea that middle eastern societies have 'always' looked down upon artistic expression is empirically wrong, as the experience of the incredible cultural production in most eveyr major islamic empire, from morocco to the mughals, and from the 8th to the 18th century makes clear. it is worth noting that in many ways the turn against art is a very modern experience in the muslim world and coincides with the intersection of european imperialism and islamic reformism...

mark levine

Somali:

The Terrorist They Call "president" Is The Enemy Of Humanity!!

That this guy, responsible for this drivel, is a lazy idiot who only wants to be published and doesn't care about truth is given away by this nonsense he tries to pass off as opinion or whatever this sort of dumb blather is called.

The man is talking about the dumb Arab man's LOVE of western culture. This has nothing to do with Islam. In fact Islam foerbids this sort of "music." The dumb arabs mistake the drunken, drugged up white man's garbage for music. So this man, who passes himself off as a "blogger" whatever the hell this term means, is really talking about Arab love for white man's culture and their ettem[pt to recreate this in their countries. The reason why Arabs LOVE white man's culture is, I believe, they have a Slave mentality. They have a need to follow someone!!!

There are a billion Muslims worldwide. Has this man been to each and every country where these Muslims live and checked out their different, diverse cultures?

No. Of course NOT!!

But this doesn't stop him from over, over, over, over-generalizing. He says "Muslim" but then he mentions only two counteries!!!

Pathetic!!

Muscat friend:

What's next? An Arab al-Eminem? bring it on.

Music, and soccer, bring the world together.

great column idea Jack Fairweather.

popctrl:

It's always good to hear press not insulting metal, but from the sounds of the song...I just don't any metal spirit past violence. Death metal is mostly about killing your ENEMY, not a bunch of random blind fools on a bus or in a building...

sulfugor:

Someone wondered how islamic metal fans dealt with the anti-religious themes of western heavy metal :
I think that in most cases they simply ignore it! Christian metalheads have been doing it for years and years and it works, i guess .
In some other cases you have indonesians bands who write anti-christian lyrics. Hmm not too dangerous in an islamic country isn't it ?
Only in very few cases have i heard of truly anti-islamic bands from the islamic world. I've heard of a couple of pagan ( canaanite ) bands from Lebanon and Iran . They're obviously keeping a low profile .
I feel that the writer's thesis isn't very solidly supported.
To say thatt he islamic world has looked down on artistic creation, for example, is just strange.
As much as I LOVE extreme metal, I'm just not sure how important it is as a cultural movement. If fans treated it as much more than just music, they wouldn't be able to, for example, pray 5 times/day . Just like a lot of christians in the west, a lot of the muslim fans enjoy the music and that's pretty much it, their enthusiasm notwithstanding .

miknugget:

This is one of the most interesting things I’ve read in the WaPo in while. I’ve seen some people below claim that heavy metal is at odds with Islamic beliefs but that isn’t true. Anyone that would say so obviously knows little about heavy metal. Probably the only common theme between all genres of metal is distorted guitars, other than that, there can be vastly different lyrical subject matter, drumming, bpms, and vocal styles. In the death metal genre alone some bands are atheist, some Satanist (most of them do it as a joke, they don’t even really believe in Satan), some Christian, some Muslim, some write anti-war songs, some write pro-war songs, some write pro-vegan/anti-carnivore songs, and there are many other lyrical themes. Some metal bands are completely fantasy based, like many of the Euro prog-metal bands (I usually refer to them as Dungeons & Dragons metal). Metal is a good medium for expressing anger or dissent. There are even hundreds of Christian metal bands in the US (mostly metalcore and death metal. Just look at the Solid State and Tooth & Nail record labels), just as there are probably dozens or hundreds of Islamic metal bands, and metal bands of other faiths around the world.

I was living in Cairo, Egypt, in 1997 when the group of 100 or so guys were arrested for the “Satanic metal affair,” and If I remember correctly, they were arrested for sacrificing cats in some abandoned house or mansion, blasting metal, and the fact that many of them wore goth make-up probably had something to do with it as well. I did meet many metalheads (but many, many more rap-heads and hip-hop heads) when I was in Egypt and many were really into Sepultura, Slayer, Napalm Death, Cannibal Corpse, Death, Danzig, Iced Earth, Deftones, Deicide, Suffocation, Paradise Lost, Machine Head, Metallica, Obituary, etc. Mostly thrash, death, and poppier metal, and some black metal.

Of little consequence to the story, but worthy of mention, Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, and Eric Clapton were ABSOLUTELY HUGE when I was in Egypt. You could buy bootleg Pink Floyd albums at every kiosk that sold tapes.

Garak:

No metal before Led Zep? What about the Cream? Sunshine of Your Metal?

Also, the article should have included a link to an audio sample of the Metal of which he writes. Can you add this, Mr. Levine?

Anonymous:

UCISEE

Observer's comment below: Islam and music says it all. So far as I know, the culture dictum of the Arab/muslim culture is: if you err, err on the side of safety, ie, ban all forms of individual expression.

Observer:

Islam and lyrics.
“As for poets, the erring follow them. Hast thou not seen how they stray in every valley, And how they say that which they do not? (Quran 26: 224-226.)”

Islam and music.
“Music is an issue that has been hotly debated by scholars of the past and the present. While many of them have been generally inclined to condemn all forms of music, with the singular exception of ad-duff (tambourine) in weddings, quite a few of them have taken a more positive approach of considering only music containing sensual, pagan, or unethical themes or subliminal messages as being categorically forbidden.”
http://www.islamonline.net/fatwa/english/FatwaDisplay.asp?hFatwaID=78488

How do those Muslim artists reconcile between the above exhortations and their indulging in heavy metal music?

Mike:

May metal succeed where the hippies failed. Yes we've seen music sub-culture threaten authority before, but the reason it failed is not because of the scene. It's because baby boomers got fried on drugs and then turned to money as their religion. If they were to look in the mirror as a youth and see the shadow of what their future held they'd probably have ODed for suicide. (Our budget would be balanced too)

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JBE:

Right on! Fight the Wahabbists, fundamentalists, terorist movements, and criminal governments with TONS OF METAL!

Let's air-drop bootlegged cases of "School of Rock", "Pick of Destiny", "Spinal Tap", and "Metalpocolypse"... not to mention "Master of Puppets"

Once the kids start rockin' guitars there isn't any time left for blowing themselves up next to a bunch of baby strollers.

What is a fundamentalist mullah to do!?!

dschalek:

I also encourage everyone to look into the films "Global Metal" and "Heavy Metal In Baghdad" for a glimpse of metal's impact.

Long live death and black metal.

madtom:

Great stuff! Now we need the physiological psychologists to show the neurological similarity between the effects of religion and rock, and the social psychologists to show the similar social structures they support, and the evolutionary psychologists to show how these structures evolve and compete for niches in the the neurological and social landscape.

DesiHungama:

All I can say you need to listen to this band called "Junoon". Led Zepplin would be proud of today's rock.

Anonymous:

"Kleeman--Led Zep not metal???? You must be very young. There was no metal before Whole Lotta Love...only after and because of."


So true. Blues progressions + overdrive = metal.

Panhandle Willy:

Kleeman--Led Zep not metal???? You must be very young. There was no metal before Whole Lotta Love...only after and because of.

KWM:

WRT the article, anything that helps to keep those young men off the path to becoming the next suicide bomber is OK with me. There's a lot of of creativity within that genre, even if the subject matter is dark. Better an expression of angst with a fist pump and a head bob than the alternative currently available.

To Anonymous re:"Middle Eastern societies have always looked down at art and artistic expression, such as singing, dancing etc."

Really? I thought Christians did a much better job in that department, and I am a Christian --- and, incidentally, also a huge Led Zeppelin fan.

BTW to EKLEEMAN, although Led Zeppelin is more aptly classified as "rock" rather than metal, most agree that their guitar-driven style gave rise to the heavy metal movement that followed in their wake.

K

GetMoreReal:

Your'e right, Middle East Metal is not Islamic. Levine has an interesting but sloppy thesis.


The mainstream Muslim’s response to a supposed identity-crisis or political situation is probably much more straightforward than Levine’s more convoluted concept of Middle Eastern metal: “… It offers fans a sense of community, "affirming life" through its seemingly morbid focus on death, creating a space outside of government control to express identities that don't conform to those sponsored or desired by undemocratic regimes and conservative religious establishments.” Yes, it is perfectly conceivable to have shared disaffection by young Muslims living in the same political situation, but common disaffection does not mean common identity crisis. The average young Muslim does not have this Hippy-type of identity crisis or would participate in Middle Eastern rocking to approach to a solution.

This idea Islam can solve its problems by rocking its way out is hard to believe. The unity-rock protest model was already tried in the Western hippie movement’s attempt to reform the autocratic white pasty “Establishment” using the recruitment device known as “tune in, turn on and drop out.” In America, this model failed, and instead produced corporate-savvy punk yuppies.
How are supposedly militant Islamists supposed to follow this path to betterment? Hand in hand with secular MBA-westernized modernists? Why does the author propose an identity model for Muslims as a way of betterment which failed in the West?

The author pairs two groups up as follows:

“best exemplars of Middle Eastern metal and of activist Islam share many attributes…they are positive and forward-thinking rather than nihilistic or based solely on resistance….”

The author carelessly points out this odd pairing as a phenomenon without sufficient explanation as to how these seemingly diverse groups would find common cause to get along once they would successfully throw off their mutually-despised authoritarian mantle.

What joins these seemingly diverse protestants is not just their mutual dissatisfaction with the government, but more their strangely common intellectual outlook. Follow me closely here. THE FACT IS THAT THE WESTERN-EDUCATED MODERNISTS MUSLIM S AND THE ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS ARE REALLY VERY CLOSE TOGETHER IDEOLOGICALLY. Two sides of the same coin. They do not, independently or collectively, represent the majority of the Islamic world view.

This may be a phenomenon hard for the Westerner to understand. The fact is that, among many, there are two universally attractive aspects of human thought (democratic togetherness and freedom to retain historical identity) that are borrowed by modernist Muslims and by Islamic extremists, respectively. On the other hand, the modernist Muslim and Islamic extremists also contain unattractive aspects such as hedonism and oppressive rigorism, respectively, which do not come historically from Islam. The attractive aspects of human life are not natural to the whole body of thought of either Islamic modernism or extremism, but are borrowed in an attempt to make their own particular political ideologies more attractive to Muslims overall. The attractive aspects of human life are in fact much more emblematic of a third outlook within Islam which contains both of them and much more. This third outlook is that little-recognized body of Muslims who have the Historic Mainstream Traditional Orthodox Muslim world view. Ninety percent of the world’s Muslims, past and present, fit this third outlook; 10 percent of the remainder abides by either the modernist Muslim or extremist Muslim outlooks.

The West, in its scholastic and journalistic stupidity, on its fantastic ignorance of Traditional Islam, argues and implements policy about the War on Terror and the Muslim problem using as evidence arguments that are put forth by a minority of 10 percent of Muslims who represent really the effects of ISLAMIC INDIGESTION OF EITHER WESTERN RATIONALISM-LIBERALISM-MODERNISM OR WESTERN RATIONALISM-REACTIONARY REVOLUTIONISM, BOTH SIDES OF THE SAME COIN. The well known transformation of many an Islamic punk turned die-hard fundamentalist (similar to American addict-rock lovers being reborn) is a testament to this coin problem.

The viewpoints of Islamic modernists and extremists are the same in the sense that they both represent leveraged mouthpieces projected into the Islamic world by long-term very-concerted Western political policies. This has come about as a result of western support for Western-oriented Liberal Modernist Islamic governments (those exhibiting Arab Nationalism), and for Islamic Extremist-oriented governments (those exhibiting Wahhabism). These are reflected in Muslim viewpoints that are espoused as the opposing views within a troubled Islamic world battling over Islam’s soul, but in reality these minority views have artificial loudspeakers attached to them by historic coercion and cultural bribery and do not represent the pro-Islamic and pro-“democratic” and pro-intelligent world view of the majority of the world’s Muslims.

What Levine has done is to put forth a quandary over the strange partnership of “religious” extremists and modernists acting under the catchy umbrella of rock protest, and failed to adequately explain this unfathomable comradery. In reality, the average religious Muslim is not going to take part in metal events which for certain are dominated by Muslim modernists with a few polite jihadis, pseudo-Sufi liberals, and mainstream Muslims tagging along. Sufi rock is probably not very well imbedded in Traditional Islam. Judging by the statements of some of the clergy quoted in this article, they are just being polite.

Cafe DMZ:

"Indeed, heavy metal is responsible for perhaps the Arab World's only successful civil protest movement in recent memory."

Ummmm.....you sure about that, dude? The ONLY successful "civil" protest in the entire "Arab world" in recent memory?

Sounds like a bit of ill-informed hyperbole to me, plus a smattering of smug Western values. You might want to do some homework...can anyone else help fill us in?

Luke:

No mention of 30.SV, an amazing harsh noise project from a Lebanese fellow who was told he would be put to death if he made any more albums. Sounds like artistic expression is found with the sword in this part of the world.

ekleeman:

Too bad their music sucks. Why? They have no relationship to pop. It's like selling Swedish disco to Seattle.

Duderino:

Interesting article! I remember being in Jordan for vacation and seeing a flyer for a heavy metal show in Amman. I was surprised at the time, as I didn't think metal would have much appeal in the Arab world. It's refreshing to hear some intelligent, nuanced commentary about cultural trends in the Islamic world, which is quite rare in the mainstream media.

MNMNT:

You guys should watch the documentary, Heavy Metal in Baghdad. It's an amazing flick showing you what these guys go through.

Abdelwahab Hassan:

I heard you one or two times on the radio, I think you are very impartial toward Islam, and you should not be used as an educational source to the public in this subject.

ucisee:

@Anonymous:

"Middle Eastern societies have always looked down at art and artistic expression, such as singing, dancing etc"

You are very wrong and do not know the history of that culture. It is filled with a rich history of art and artistic expression. Please do not make such ignorant remarks.

Arminius:

A Metal uprising in Islam - a hopeful sign. I have been something of a Metal fan myself, for quite a while, starting with Led Zeppelin, one of the originators of the genre. I also like Metallica, Savatage, Blind Guardian, and others. I am 65 years old. Go figure.

If rap ever hits Islam, then the entire world is doomed....

Anonymous:

Heavy metal will save your soul!! Music has no color or barriers it is for everyone, and you can be free. That's true religion right there.

Rock on! \m/

Ilya:


Very interesting stuff.

I'm left wondering, though: Since many of the most influential Western heavy/black metal bands *do* have explicitly anti-religious themes, how do the Islamic metalheads conceptualize their relation to that tradition? Do they condemn it, or see themselves as evolving out of it, or say that the kinship is just at the musical/atmospheric level, or ...?

Xavier G.:

"Middle Eastern societies have always looked down at art and artistic expression, such as singing, dancing etc."

It is again a biased and misinformed vision of the Middle East and Islam. One has only to think of the place the late singer Oum Kalthoum had in Egypt and the whole Middle East to know that singing (or any artistic forms of expression) is revered in these societies.

David:

Judaism and Islam share the same passion for this western musical genre. It’s another illustration of how very similar they are.

raviganama:

Really a truth-baring analysis. In whichever society they are, young ones do find their way of expression and it is unstoppable. They hold hope for societies that are starved of peace and harmony. A good read for youth across the world.

pgr88:

Dude - Osama bin Laden has Motorhead on his iPod!

Don H.:

Thanks, Jack, for an interesting insight to the use of heavy metal as a means of self-expression in the Islamic world. It's important to remember that so much of the population is young and that the cultural outlook is tempered by the age of the population. At the same time the Western world is aging and its culture is affected by the outlook that comes with age. It's also refreshing to see that there is dissatisfaction with the governments and religious leaders and that music is playing its universal role, still, as a tool of protest.

Anonymous:

Middle Eastern societies have always looked down at art and artistic expression, such as singing, dancing etc.

I am all for change in that part of the world. America might triumph where others failed. Who knows

Whatever works!! If heavy metal is it, so be it.

Anju Chandel:

Interesting view! Hope these metalheads grow in numbers and bring about positive changes in increasingly radicalizing Islamic societies.

ZZim:

Cool.

PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.