Blog Archive

Blog Archive – April, 2010

HipHop Muslim youths speak words our leaders are afraid to utter

April 26, 2010

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

The Muslim Student’s Association at a New York City university is sponsoring a rousing event today. Imams listen up!

Here on Tahrir, we’ve heard the response from our public.

These young poets possess more courage and they often speak for and about Islam better than the ‘experts’. No wonder that the young are drawn to these Muslim men and women who have embraced and advanced the dissent of this Black-originating genre. They pick up the beat, and move it into their culture with their own owerful messages. The phenomenon is worldwide.

Our young producers at RadioTahrir introduced us to MosDef, DAM, Outlandish, Boona Mohammed, Shadia Mansour, Kamal Imani, Gaith Adhami. Before these artists came to our studios at WBAI, we heard their precursor’s in the poems of  Dasham Brookins, Lisa Mohammed, Suheir Hammad and Mohja Kahf. They teach the fundamentals of Islam in their poetry. They also speak with a confidence and realism that the Muslim community, and the world, badly needs. They are not afraid of their own anger. Unapologetic, they also boldly challenge the establishment, Muslim and American, that has held captive their religion and their young dreams.

A few days ago, the poet and singer known as the godfather of Rap, Gil Scott Heron announced the cancellation of a Tel Aviv concert. (He) won’t play in Israel “until everyone is welcome there”, asserted the revolutionary artist. That action is indicative of the genre.

HipHop and spoken word accompanied by a rap beat, emerged and flourished among US Black youth. It has now swept the world. The style has proved remarkably versatile. Youths in China, Iran, Algeria and elsewhere readily adapt it to their own language with great creativity, retaining the smack that its originators imbedded their angry, bold poems.

The world’s youth have taken up Rap not as if overwhelmed by waves of western influence. Not at all. Rap applies to their experience, challenging authority, saying it like it is, pushing the message in the face of their adversaries.

I’m particularly struck by the poetry of Muslim men and women who employ  Hiphop beat to carry their messages. They need not shout their anger. They do not want sentimentality. No nostalgia here. They guide their anger and truth into a creative, courageous thing. Their contemporaries are listening carefully.

Much of their message is anger. It’s so welcome today when the Muslim voice has all but shriveled into an acquiescent blather of assurances of our harmlessness and innocence, ready to comply to almost any demand.

Listen to what our poets are saying and you may feel Muslims are finally finding our voice.   

[ HipHop Muslim youths speak words our leaders are afraid to utter ]

Just one video leak from an American battlefront in Iraq.

April 06, 2010

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

You really have to listen closely to what the US shooters say as their helicopter zeroes in on their Iraqi prey. More outrageous behavior lies beyond the video of these Americans murdering 12 Iraqis. The camera offers a bird’s eye view of the action—a gang of trigger-happy thugs hovering above a quiet Baghdad neighborhood. Machine guns blast.

The video is fascinating in itself, allowing us to view the targets through the crosshairs, real-time, of a genuine machine guns at work. The American helicopter circles and zooms in over its prey, circles, hovers zooms again.

Forget this (if you can). Listen instead to the US soldiers’ exchanges among one another: their obscene language, their laughter, the game they engage. Engage. Here, in our US war theater the word means ‘kill’. Kill anything wounded, anything in sight. Kill anything attempting humanitarian aid.

The entire episode we witness in this leaked 2007 tape is not really ‘war’. It is the record of a ‘hunt’. Hunt: as in ‘sport’.

More disturbing is the appearance of the prey walking across a street, totally unaware of being identified as targets of the impending massacre.

Repeated references to the Iraqis being armed at the early stages of the stalk seem contrived—an excuse for complete license. Later, all reference to weapons is set aside, replaced by questions of assurance that all signs of life have been eliminated.

Absolutely bloodthirsty, this team of Americans serving their country.

The predators are clearly enjoying themselves. It is as if they have been in sports training, now let loose, eager to practice their hunting skills. Their expressions of gratification, bordering on delight, is sickening.

Forget ‘rules of engagement’. Forget if this is being investigated by US military authorities. Forget which individuals are responsible. This is the way Americans view Iraqis. This is the result of their training. This is the ‘game’ of modern society and the education of our young, in countless internet and computer games about which we rarely raise questions.

Doubtless this one revelation is not isolated. Its only distinction is that it comes from one troubled, anonymous soldier who decided to share this particular record with the public.

[ Just one video leak from an American battlefront in Iraq. ]

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“Very few people really care about freedom, about liberty, about the truth, very few. Very few people have guts, the kind of guts on which a real democracy has to depend. Without people with that sort of guts a free society dies or cannot be born.”

Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook

Tahrir Diwan

a poem.. a song..
poem Poem "Daddy's Been Gone"
Theater artist Andrea Assaf performs from the "Robin Monologues"

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poem Qur'an Surat Al-Qadr, 'Night of Destiny'
Quranic recitation by women is as much a gift to the divine

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Book review
Yousry Nasrallah, Director, Egypt's
Scheherazade: Tell Me A Story
reviewed by BN Aziz.

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