20 March 2007
Musicians and music listeners get killed
Musicians, music shop owners and music fans flee from death squads of Islamic extremists in Baghdad. It is no longer safe to sell music in central and southern Iraq, reported Associated Press on 16 March 2007
Similar to the present development in north-western Pakistan, Islamic extremist militants are forcing stores which sell CDs and DVDs to shut down in central and southern Iraq, and according to Associated Press' correspondents in Iraq, Omar Sinan and Yahya Barzanji, there has even been incidents where employees of music stores have been killed.
In November 2006, it was reported by a UN news agency that at least 75 singers have been killed since the turmoil began in Iraq in 2003, among these the 20-year-old singer Muhammad Jabry whose decapitated body was found with a note saying that "this was the destiny of those who sing American words".
In the capital city, people have stopped listening to music in public because they fear that they will draw the attention of Islamic hardliners who regard pop music a source of corruption and shameful decadence. Listening to Western pop music, and more specifically: American pop music, will make you an associate with the American troops in the country. People are afraid even to walk into a music store fearing that someone is watching them, and faced with these dangers of purchasing music, many Baghdad residents turn to the Internet, using their mobile phones to listen to songs.
"You deserve to die"
Associated Press interviewed a 21-year-old man who ran his own music store in eastern Baghdad until, in September 2006, followers of the radical shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr came to his shop and told him to shut it down. They left a letter saying:
"You infidel and devil-follower ... you deserve to die for pushing Muslims to corruption and adultery."
The young shop owner did not take the threat seriously at first, but then men dressed in black sprayed his shop with gunfire, destroying it and wounding him. He fled Baghdad and now works as an employee in a music store in Sulaimaniyah which, like the rest of autonomous Kurdistan, is largely secular.
The manager of the Aldar Albaidaa music store chain confirmed that it is no longer safe to sell music in central and southern Iraq. He spoke with the Associated Press by telephone on condition of anonymity because of fear of reprisals. During the summer 2006, militiamen broke into the chain's Baghdad branch and demanded it be shut down. The manager negotiatied with them to keep the store open, but under a strict set of conditions: No hanging pictures of female singers on the storefront and no loudspeakers playing music outside.
The article on music prohibition in Iraq by Associated Press was printed in Washington Post, the Columbian, and The Columbus Dispatch in USA, The Toronto Star, Montreal Gazette, and C-News in Canada, Telegram.com, Yahoo.com, and in numerous other news outlets.
"Art is my blood"
During the past 12 months, both shiite and sunni Muslim extremists have grown bolder in enforcing their religious strictures on the citizens of Iraq. Below are three quotes from the past year which further describe the situation in Iraq:
• In April 2006, a teacher at the Baghdad's Music and Ballet School told Cox News Service that she occasionally changes cars to fool anyone who might be tracking her. She had had one close call when her driver eluded gunmen trying to force them to pull over. The 30-year-old teacher, Alla'a Ali al-Lami, said that extremists are misusing religion as "a hook to hang all their issues on."
• In June 2006, Istar, writer of the weblog 'Iraqi Screen', wrote:
When I had the chance to sit with an Iraqi singer who also plays on lute and asked him how could he sing and play on these crazy days, the artist said: “I live in Sader city, I can’t walk in the street carrying my lute with me, I am hiding it here and there in fear some gunmen would see me and kill me, I have received many threats ordering me to give up singing because it is Haram (forbidden) or I would be killed, but I love art, it is in my blood. Which is better – to be a singer or a killer?”
• Nearly 80 percent of the country's singers have fled the country and at least 75 singers had been killed since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, estimated the Iraqi Artist's Association according to IRIN in November 2006.
Associated Press – 16 March 2007:
'Iraqi Music Business Reflects Hardships'
Photo accompaigning the story: Music store in Sulaimaniyah in Iraq
Cox Washington – 30 April 2006:
'Music School Perseveres Despite War Dangers'
InterIslam.org – 2001:
'Prohibitions: Music in Islam'
Google News – continuously updated:
Search 'Iraq' + 'music'
Middle East: Dossier on music, bans and censorship
The internet portal Qantara.de has produced a dossier entitled 'Middle Eastern Musical Worlds'. It includes issues of music bans and censorship in the Islamic world
16 May 2007
Iran: Prohibition of music in holy city
In a speech in official Friday praying on 11 May 2007 the Imam of Mashhad banned practicing of music and ordered to close all of the music institutes in the holy city
15 May 2007
Afghanistan: Music download shop attacked, two killed
Two people were killed and several wounded by a bomb that exploded in a music download shop in Afghanistan's southeastern town of Khost on 22 April 2007
09 May 2007
Pakistan: Intensified campaign against music
Religious militants in north-western Pakistan continue violent attacks on property belonging to people who sell or listen to music
08 May 2007
Iran: Six musicians arrested
Authorities in Iran have reportedly detained at least six members of underground music bands and shut down their studios, Radio Farda reported
24 April 2007
Pakistan: Music business faces serious threats in North West Pakistan
1,200 owners of music centres have been warned by Islamic hardliners to close down, and on 21 April 2007, three more video and music shops were blown up by a bomb
23 April 2007
Pakistan: Music CDs burned in the streets of Islamabad
Emotionally charged religious youth screamed slogans against perceived immorality as they burned a pile of music CDs and cassettes in Pakistan's capital on 6 May 2007
08 April 2007
Pakistan: Fear and persecution follows Afghan musicians
The fear and persecution which forced Afghan singers to leave their country now has followed them to their exile in Peshawar in Pakistan
04 April 2007
Iraq: Musicians and music listeners get killed
Musicians, music shop owners and music fans flee from death squads of Islamic extremists in Baghdad. It is no longer safe to sell music in central and southern Iraq
20 March 2007
Pakistan: Islamic music prohibition discussed on Danish tv
'Our prophet was born to do away with music', a mullah from Pakistan's second-largest mosque was quoted as saying on the Danish tv-channel DR1 on 18 March 2007
19 March 2007
Pakistan: Extremists kill one, injure two in music shop attacks
Two separate terrorist attacks on music centres left one killed and two seriously injured in Mardan and Peshawar respectively as extremist religious groups have intensified their campaign against all forms of entertainment in north-west Pakistan
18 March 2007
Bashar Shammout: Freemuse and the Middle East
Video interview with the Bashar Shammout, member of Freemuse's executive committee. He speaks about music censorship in the Middle East - and Freemuse's work there
15 March 2007
Pakistan: Music and video shop blown away
"Close within three days – or you will be blown away." This threat by the religious extremists became reality when a video centre was blown away on 13 March 2007
15 March 2007
Pakistan: Music centres threatened by religious extremists
A campaign launched by a religious leader against listening to music has taken a dangerous turn in Swat Valley of North-West Frontier Province, reports our correspondent
10 March 2007
Norway: Musicians persecuted in the name of God
In a leading Norwegian newspaper, priest Carl Petter Opsahl lists about a number of cases where musicians have been censored and persecuted on religious grounds
05 March 2007
Pakistan: Fine for playing music in taxi, music shop attacked
The Taliban in Pakistan's in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan are imposing a fine of 500 rupees for any one playing music in public, reports several news agencies
03 March 2007
Pakistan: Bus drivers threatened not to play music
An organisation called Mujahideen Bajaur has warned public transport drivers in Bajaur region to stop the “un-Islamic act” of playing music in buses
28 February 2007
UK: Avoid 'harmful forms of music' in state schools, says Muslim council
Muslim Council of Britain has published recommendations on how music lessons should be taught to Muslims in state schools in the United Kingdom
22 February 2007
Denmark: Focus on arguments against religious music prohibition
Salman Ahmad visited Copenhagen in February 2007 to introduce the screening of the documentary film, 'The Rock Star and the Mullahs'
15 February 2007
Three films about music and Islam hit Scandinavia
Pakistani rock star Salman Ahmad and editor Simon Broughton visit Denmark and Sweden in February 2007 to show three documentari films about music and Islam
24 January 2007