Music News

How ISIS Has Declared War on Western Music

ISIL keyboard punishment

ISIS–or Da’esh, as some people are calling it now because it really pisses off the membership, something which I wholely endorse–is made up of awful, horrible, psychopathic thugs bent on destroying anyone and everything that doesn’t conform to their backwards Medieval world view. That includes music, of course. Billboard picks up the thread.

There are a number of reasons why the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) might have targeted Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris. According to the group’s own statement, it was a place “where hundreds of apostates had gathered in a profligate prostitution party.” Maybe they knew Le Bataclan had once been Jewish-owned, or chose it simply because it would be a soft target. But the fact that it was a popular music venue playing host to an American band called Eagles of Death Metal may also have been significant. ISIS despises both America and popular music, and for some years has been building a particular hatred of its darker, louder forms.

At its birth, in Northern Syria in spring 2013, ISIS was a sinister puzzle. Why, when thousands were being killed in a brutal war between rebel groups and Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad’s regime, should this mysterious new rebel outfit care what people were wearing and watching and listening to? One young Syrian who lives in ISIS’ capital of Raqqa saw his best friend detained for several weeks for sporting a heavy metal T-shirt. Other Syrians were arrested for songs found on their mobile phones. ISIS diligently searched for minor infractions: pornography, music or anything that it considered satanic, demonic or otherwise “insulting Allah.” In ISIS’ sliding scale of punishments, a single song was worth between 30 and 40 lashes with a whip or stick. In one incident at the beginning of 2015, a group of musicians was apparently given 90 lashes each for the crime of playing an electronic keyboard.

Shades of what the Taliban did when they overran Afghanistan. Continue reading.



Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38035 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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