Young Muslims Use Punk to Loosen Their Religion

September 20, 2009

Author: Kate Shellnutt

Source: Chicago Sun-Times,muslim-islam-punk-rock-kominas-092009.article

The notion of Muslims playing punk rock may seem like incongruous cultures -- profanity-laden lyrics following the religion's traditional greeting ("Salaam aleikum"), melodic Middle Eastern strumming punctuates noisy guitar feedback, purple and red mohawks and Arabic-scripted tattoos. But for the second-generation Americans leading this contemporary cultural movement, Muslim punk isn't just an irreverent juxtaposition.

"It makes sense," said 23-year-old Marwan Kamel, a Syrian-American and the lead guitarist for Al-Thawra, an experimental punk band whose name is Arabic for revolution. "You've got this pull from both sides when you're one of the first kids in your family to grow up in America. That's the thing that's so punk about it, 'cause that's what it's all about -- feeling f---ing different."


Al-Thawra and a handful of other bands build communities online and tour across the country under the banner of taqwacore -- a term that fuses the words hard-core and taqwa, Arabic for piety.