North African Metalheads Search For A Space Where They Can Enjoy The Work Of Dave Mustaine In Peace
Popular music, especially of the less genteel variety, has long been a battleground for young folks in Muslim countries, but according to Reuters’ hesher wire, the twentysomething headbangers of Morocco are staging something of a comeback after being derailed by authorities cracking down on the music for flaunting morality and encouraging the worship of Satan. Of course, charges of Satanism aren’t quite so much a metalhead badge of honor when you’re facing actual jail time rather than the finger-wagging of irate catholic school officials and parents asking you to turn your t-shirt inside out when company comes over, as 11 Moroccan metal fans found out five years ago when they were busted for bigging up Beelzebub.
Eleven young Moroccans were convicted in 2003 for distributing material which “undermines good morals” and makes “people listen, with bad intent, to songs which contravene good morals or incite debauchery”.
Three were given a year in prison for “employing seductive methods with the aim of undermining the faith of a Muslim”, sparking protests from rights activists.
“These people weren’t Morocco’s first metal players but they were sacrificed by the government to set an example,” said Anas Tabouti, 19, from Sidi Kacem. “The rap scene went through similar problems in the 1990s and now it’s mainstream.”
Well, if hip-hop has been mainstreamed in Morocco, clearly the answer for these embattled, dreadlock-sporting young Moroccan metallers is… rap-metal? They do claim to be more influenced by Megadeth than Limp Bizkit and their fellow mosh-hop travellers, but perhaps the out-of-work Fred Durst can be airlifted in with a copy of the Judgment Night soundtrack to act as a mediator between the government and the kids, a the nod from the Nobel nominating committee within his reach at last? Meanwhile, the Moroccan metal scene admirably continues to try to carve out a place for itself in a country where even finding an untroubled practice space can be a struggle.