In Iraq, music praising jihad has become a hot item. This from Newsday, with thanks to Jean-Luc:
The rhythm, you can almost dance to. The lyrics call for guerrilla war.
“America has come and occupied Baghdad,” singer Sabah al-Jenabi croons. “The army and people have weapons and ammunition. Let’s go fight and call out the name of God.”
On the musical front of the guerrilla war in Iraq, Americans hold the heights. They control the country’s radio stations, which fill the airwaves with apolitical Western and Arab pop tunes. But at least some Iraqi musicians, like al-Jenabi, are taking the battle for Iraqis’ hearts and minds to the country’s cassette and CD players.
The U.S.-led occupation authority has outlawed mass media appeals for violence against coalition troops or other Iraqis. Its spokesman, Dan Senor, told reporters recently that “any sort of public expression used in an institutionalized sense that would incite violence against the coalition or Iraqis” is banned.
But al-Jenabi’s cassette tapes, and others calling for violent insurrection against the Americans, are hot items on the streets of Baghdad, Fallujah and Ramadi. Al-Jenabi’s tunes ring out in the bazaars of central Iraq, where rebels have been shooting down U.S. helicopters weekly.
“The men of Fallujah are men of hard tasks,” he sings in an Arabic argot spoken only in Fallujah and nearby Ramadi. “They paralyzed America with rocket-propelled grenades. May God protect them from airplanes.” . . .
Even Iraqis generally supportive of the U.S. occupation admit they’re attracted to the music. Driver Ahmad Hossein plays al-Jenabi’s cassettes in his car. “I like the music and the lyrics,” said Hossein, a member of the Shia sect, which was oppressed under Hussein’s regime. “I don’t know why. I don’t agree with what it’s saying. It just makes me feel good.”
Some interesting information about the relatively peaceful Sufis:
But Iraq’s musicians are divided about supporting the guerrilla war. The tunes al-Jenabi sings are based on a centuries-old form of religious music — praise-singing — that evolved among Islam’s mystical Sufi brotherhoods. And Sufi praisers, traditional leaders in the writing of songs to fight by, seem unconvinced that war is needed now.
Seyyed Abdullah Hassani sings and plays the daf, a big hand-held drum. His family has been praising for 30 generations, and he ticks off the names of his forefathers from memory. Followers come to his book-filled office and ask him to sing a few words about Allah, a dead relative or a newborn child in return for a small donation.
Iraq’s last rebellion against a Western army was in 1920, when the British Empire had seized this land after World War I in search of oil to fuel the navy upon which the empire depended. Then, eminent religious leaders issued the call for jihad and Sufi praisers — including Hassani’s grandfather — turned out songs in support.
“Within a couple years, the British fled,” Hassani said. In fact, while the British were thrown back by the revolt, they ultimately used heavy bombing by their new air force to regain control.
Now, Hassani says, the anti-American revolt among Sunnis lacks the legitimate sanction of religious leaders. Sufi praisers have not joined the fight.
But it should be noted that, contrary to the wishful thinking of many American analysts, these Sufis do not have a theoretical objection to violent jihad, whether or not they think the time is right for it now.