Monday, November 14, 2011

Persecution of Musicians in the Islamic World

During the 1990's, the Taliban strictly regulated the production and consumption of music in Afghanistan, especially in the public sphere, claiming that a certain hadith would ensure that those who listen to instrumental music would have molten lead poured on their ears. Musicians who dared to defy the orders of the Taliban were tortured, exiled, and had their instruments smashed. "They were subjected to immense humiliation and disgrace,'' said Tor Gul, an Afghan guitar player, ''they were forced to ride donkeys in bazaars and other places with their faces blackened because they were told by the mullahs that they were sinners.''

Perhaps some of you might be familiar with the story of Lounes Matoub, the Berber singer and mondol player from Algeria who was kidnapped and killed by a radical Islamic group. His songs advocated Berber rights and secularism, and despite threats to his life and family, he refused to be silenced. We can see that persecution of musicians seems to occupy an intersection of the enumerated grounds; for Matoub, it is clear that he was targeted for both religious and political beliefs. However, if we consider a heavy metal singer in Afghanistan who continues to play his music with no political or religious agenda, can we say he is targeted for his political beliefs? Is belief in freedom of expression and performance a political opinion we ought to protect? Moreover, can we say that being a musician constitutes membership in a particular social group?

On a lighter note, even women are gaining more access to the production of music in Afghanistan. In this video, The Burqa Band performs one of their singles as a protest against both Taliban's rules for traditional dress and music regulation. In order to protect their identities and families, the group performs anonymously. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_Y-sw89qTY

2 comments:

Andrew B. said...

Hmm really interesting blog. And I'm not just saying that this one really made me stop and think.
I will definitely say that freedom of expression, in this case, the freedom to express oneself through music, is a political right. Thus being persecuted for choosing to express that right would count under political opinion. I don't think any Immigration Judge would disagree with that, but maybe I'm mistaken...

Anonymous said...

Yeah DOMINICAN REPUBLIC POLICE IS VERY CORRUPT AND THEY DONT FEEL EMBARRAS THAT THEY WEARING THERE UNIFORM AS A POLICE AND ASKED MONEY,MORE IF THEY KNOW THAT YOU ARE A TOURIST AND CAN'T SPEAK SPANISH,THEY WILL ROBBED YOU INFRONT OF YOUR FACE...