Keith Kahn Harris

Metal Jew

Metal jew

Can Islamophobia be Radical?

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One criticism sometimes levelled at Satanism and black metal is that anti-Christianity is an easy option in places like Norway and that if they’d have any guts they’d attack Islam. I am torn over this question as I believe Islamophobia to be a real problem and that western societies hardly need to have more abuse directed at Islamic minorities, but at the same time I cannot deny that blasphemy should never be ruled artistically out of bounds. More than that – blasphemy can, in certain contexts be a radical act. Such might (and I stressmight) be  the case with the Arabic Anti-Islamic Legion, a small grouping of black metal acts based in the Islamic world. Some of these may undoubtedly be brave (although they keep themselves anonymous), such as the woman behind the Iraqi solo act Janaza . I can’t deny that such a project could be an act of resistance against fundamentalist domination. Yet my worry is that in a western context, anti-Islamic black metal may simply fuel racism and Islamophobia.

Yes I know, I am a confused lefty metal-lover trying to have my cake and eat it: I enjoy the  thrill of transgression but abhore oppression, bigotry and racism; I respect Islam immensely (honestly) but also respect blasphemous art. Is such a position viable? Well in the sense that I manage to get up in the morning and live a fairly normal life I guess that it is. Of course, life is easy for me as a middle class Londoner. Where would I jump if I had to make hard choices? I don’t know, but I guess I have lived my life so far with the aim of avoiding those choices. I am 39 now, if I can just manage to keep this ludicrous position going for another 40 or so years, then I guess I will have  showed it’s possible to have my cake and eat it too.