Saturday, December 14, 2013

FiRock - Muslim Rock Under Investigation

Joe Parkinson of the Wall Street Journal recently reported on FiRock, a Turkish rock band fronted by Muslic cleric Ahmet Tuzer (the full article is behind a paywall, but if you're a subscriber click here):

"By day, the 42-year old Muslim cleric chants the Azan—the Islamic call to prayer—from a small mosque in the coastal village of Pinarbasi, where he preaches to about 150 people. By night, he preaches the gospel of Led Zeppelin, singing about a different stairway to heaven with his four-piece rock band, FiRock, led by Mr. Tuzer and heavily tattooed metal guitarist Dogan Sakin."

"Mr. Tuzer, a third-generation imam who took up religious responsibilities at the age of 19, says the band combines Islamic mysticism with the music of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Queen to spread a message of peace and tolerance. At home, he headbangs to Iron Maiden's "Fear of the Dark" and Metallica's "Wherever I May Roam." He says there is no contradiction between religion and heavy metal, and he is hoping to attract younger people to the faith by carving out a new genre: Muslim rock."

Mr. Tuzer, however, has drawn the ire of his religious elders and received threats online:

"Turkey's religious directorate, the Diyanet, in September began to investigate whether Mr. Tuzer's activities were 'un-Islamic' after he played an August gig in the seaside town of Kas."

This treatment doesn't sound too dissimilar to the criticisms that Christian rock bands like Petra faced in the 70s and 80s. You can watch the video for the band's hit in Turkey, "Come To God", below. Can't say that I'm a fan of this soft rock style, but you have to admire anyone trying to smash boundaries in the name of rock!

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