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Defenders of freedom of speech

Fun-Da-Mental touches my militant Muslim heart with their new album. But is it good?


[hip hop] When Pakistani-British Aki Nawaz and his band project Fun-Da-Mental emerged in the early 1990s, it was not only this columnist who exploded (!) with pride over his Muslim heritage. With an uncompromising willingness to settle with Western superiority and lies, the band impressed an entire generation of young Muslims both musically and lyrically. Nawaz made fresh statements like "Islam was more punk to me than punk", which was music to my ears.

Now Nawaz is in the line again, never afraid of big words in the fight against ignorance and Islamophobia. But with the group's new album All is War (The Benefits of G-Had), Nawaz has teased the British media. He compares Osama bin Laden with Che Guevara in the song "Che Bin", and has written what some perceive as a tribute of suicide bombing in "Cookbook DIY". Two British politicians even want the man imprisoned. So much for freedom of speech. The album is not released on Nation Records or found in stores because the record label and distributors find the album too controversial. According to Nawaz, it is primarily about analyzing the causes of terrorism: poverty, racism and the United States and Britain's foreign policy. Following the London bombings of July 7 last year and the revelations of the plan of a major terrorist attack a few weeks ago, these are important questions. But there is little doubt that the room to look at Osama bin Laden and Islamists as anything but bloodthirsty terrorists is, to say the least, narrow in today's United Kingdom.

However, Nawaz is not alone in its use of rap to spread a critical message about the ongoing fight against terrorism. In February 2004, the English rap group Soul Salah Crew appeared, and created a sensation with a very catchy song where they paid tribute to Osama bin Laden and the terrorist attacks in the USA with the song "Dirty Kuffars" ("dirty infidels"). The text went like this: "We're gonna be taking over like we took over the Shah / from Kandahar to Ramallah, we're coming like the stars / Peace to Hamas and Hezbollah / OBL pulled me like a shiny star / Like the way we destroyed them two towers – haha! » The video is a captivating spectacle, which Arab leaders also get to review.

Rap and Islam and terror. One would think that the watchmen of Islam would be provoked by the use of an American music genre in the struggle for Islam, but in the struggle for Muslim souls all methods are legal.

I admire both Soul Salah Crew's militant aesthetics and Aki Nawaz's, but there are several aspects of Nawaz's message that I have always had trouble with: His embrace of the migration dream carried by the most extreme African American activists since the 1960s: The Dream of Africa. For Nawaz, this means the dream of Pakistan. But this is contrary to the basic cosmopolitan ideology we must carry with us, we must have the opportunity to create a better world (to borrow a cliché). The idea of ​​return is a dangerous romantic illusion, which contributes to young European Muslims not becoming part of Europe. It's a path I do not want to embrace. I do not have a fatherland I can swear loyalty to. I'm happy for that. But the majority of rising Muslims are born in their respective European nations, and they must be encouraged to become critical and participatory citizens. It is not achieved by rapping about returning home. But despite dubious dreams, Aki Nawaz dares to take a clear stand for Islam and Muslim freedom of speech. It's not rock 'n' roll aesthetics, but seriousness.

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