Mali: no rhythm or reason as militants declare war on music

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The pickup halted in Kidal, the far-flung Malian desert town that is home to members of the Grammy award-winning band Tinariwen. Seven AK47-toting militiamen got out and marched to the family home of a local musician. He wasn’t home, but the message delivered to his sister was chilling: “If you speak to him, tell him that if he ever shows his face in this town again, we’ll cut off all the fingers he uses to play his guitar with.”


The gang then removed guitars, amplifiers, speakers, microphones and a drum kit from the house, doused them with petrol, and set them ablaze. In northern Mali, religious war has been declared on music.

When a rabble of different Islamist groups took control of the region in April there were fears that its rich culture would suffer. But no one imagined that music would almost cease to exist – not in Mali, a country that has become internationally renowned for its sound.

“Culture is our petrol,” says Toumani Diabaté, the Malian kora player who has collaborated with Damon Albarn and Björk, to name but a few. “Music is our mineral wealth. There isn’t a single major music prize in the world today that hasn’t been won by a Malian artist.”

“Music regulates the life of every Malian,” adds Cheich Tidiane Seck, a prolific Malian musician and producer. “From the cradle to the grave. From ancient times right up to today. A Mali without music? No … I mean … give me another one!”

And yet that is the bland reality dawning on this once joy-filled land. International observers claim the leaders of the three armed Islamic groups who now control the northern Malian cities of Timbuktu, Kidal and Gao are motivated by money and power rather the dream of a caliphate in the Sahel. There are strong ties between these groups and the less than holy interests of major drug-traffickers and arms smugglers.

But many of the mujahideen who have zoned in on the conflict from all over the Muslim world are fired by an unquestionable religious zeal. The same goes for Iyad Ag Ghaly, a Touareg strongman and born-again Salafist, who founded the Ansar-ud-Deen movement at the end of last year.

“He believes in what he’s doing,” says Manny Ansar, director of the Festival in the Desert that has been taking place every January in and around Timbuktu and Kidal since 2001. “And that’s what frightens me. I’m not convinced that he wants to kill everyone who is not a Muslim, like the people in al-Qaida do, but I’ve seen him giving up the fruits of this life for God.”

Written By: Andy Morgan
continue to source article at guardian.co.uk

33 COMMENTS

  1. Big surprise there, people still don’t get that we are dealing with islamic barbarians, the same kind of barbarians you saw in movies as a kid. The term rabies also comes to mind.

    Reality is just a ghostly preparation for the real post-death world to them so beheading, eviscerating, mutilating and slaughtering galore.

  2. The religious love of desecration, of ruining and corrupting human-made beauty, is nowhere better illustrated than in the Taliban-style hatred of music. 

    I received a Tinariwen album for Christmas (ha!) last year, so this is really getting through to me. Here’s an example of what these Islamists find so frightening: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

  3. And its not just the muslims who do this sort of thing. Here is a cut and paste from the old RD site, (from the Fleabytes thread)

    Donnie Munro, lead singer of Run Rig once told the story of how an ancestor, also Donald Munro, was a zealous evangelist who organised a fiddle burning.

    Get a hold of the book “Skye ” by Derek Cooper – it was published a while back (1970) but is still very good. Donald Munro is mentioned on page 97.

    I’ll quote a bit:”So powerful was his oratory, so complete his conversion from the works of the devil, that he was able to convince his flock that the only way to eternal reward was to renounce the wiles of music. He named a day when they were to bring their fiddles and bagpipes to the head of Loch Snizort for a big public conflagration. The response was gratifying for Munro and he was able to warm his body and soul at a monumental bonfire. It was not only music that men liek Munro objected to – they were almost entirely succesful in in stifling the oral tradition of story telling and other manifestations of native culture”

    SG

  4. Religion is about achieving worldly power by claiming to represent unworldly authority.

    Strangely the unworldly authority always seems want to exactly what the person/people seeking power find most convenient.

    This puts any religion at the mercy of its most bigoted/ignorant/ambitious subgroup.   And lets face it, Al Qaida, the Taliban and the Mujahideen have all of those characteristics to a  mind-boggling degree

  5. From the hadith:-
    ) Hadhrat Abu Umaamah (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “When someone raises his voice with singing, Allah sends two shaitaans who sit o­n his shoulders striking his breast with their heels until he stops (singing).” (Tibraani) 

    Of course.  Who hasn’t noticed this?

  6. Is anyone really that surprised?
    These pathetic cretins  are so terrified of people having a mind of their own and expressing it and so desperate to be total control, they make utter fools of themselves.
    They smash up archaeologically valuable statues, because they are ignorant of real history, they shoot little girls in the head because their ego is dented, they especially enjoy blowing other Muslims including kiddies, up, because they are not sharia enough.
    They decapitate folks on video so they boast about it on the internet.
    They fly passenger laden aircraft into high buildings and cheer and clap and party when they see bodies falling from windows on the 22nd floor…
    Their godly ways know no boundary.
    One thing will be interesting, can you hear the deafening silence coming from moderate wing of allah-iz-uz?
    Can you hear the condemnation coming from Saudi Arabia?…Mecca?…Iran?… the mosque down the road?

    No…oh well, all that means is the religious are being religious, that happens whatever the provenance of the deity…the religious can kill one and other and murder the kaffir and that is all good, but they would never condemn their own for being complete dickheads to loudly!
    After all they all believe is supernatural revenge, and maybe the boogie man will get them for being critical of others that drool to the same god.
    Except if those others do not go all woolly minded and weak kneed at the thought of a sky fairy with attitude.
    Besides every god infected clone likes kicking those folk..it is really open season and no one has ever complained, after all who would?
    But that is okay because apparently it is just another nice little challenge that religious goons offer out of the shrivelled toxic stench of their own ‘goodness’ to stop us all getting bored…how kind and so very thoughtful!

  7. As another commenter, I forget who, once said when I posted this on another thread: ‘Allah is a big fan of heavy metal’.

    ” Hadhrat Anas (radhiyallahu anhu) narrated that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Whoever sits and listens to a singing girl, Allah will pour molten lead into his ears o­n the Day of Qiyaamah.” (Ibn Asaakir) “

    And allah the all merciful knows best.

  8. When someone raises his voice with singing, Allah sends two shaitaans who sit o­n his shoulders striking his breast with their heels until he stops (singing).

    Apparently, a very effective strategy. And when it doesn’t work send the goon squad.

  9. “Musical instruments that are solely designed for entertainment are unlawful, with or without singing. However, to play the tambourine (daf) at weddings (and other occasions according to some fuqaha) will be permissible.

    As far as the songs are concerned, if they consist of anything that is unlawful or they prevent one from the obligatory duties, then they will be unlawful. However, if they are free from the
    abovementioned things (and they are not accompanied by instruments), then it will be permissible to sing them.”

    Music and Singing: A Detailed Fatwa

    http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_

  10. The Christian tradition supports this hair shirt mentality too. Remember John Ashcroft, his refusal to dance, spending tens of thousands of taxpayer money for gowns for two nude statues. Remember Abner in Hawaii forcing his family to eat spoiled mutton soup. Part of the reason the plague spread so quickly was Christians believed hygiene was wicked.

    Maybe it is time set up suicide booths for these loons, straight to heaven, only a dinar. You hate the earth, so leave!

    Not only do they deprive themselves of pleasure, they insist on enforcing their masochism on others.

  11. Played a hot little jazz gig last night….Just sent this out to all my musician friends. This is chilling and hard to believe things like this are still going on in the world. If nothing else I can make those in our music community aware and encourage discussion.

  12. Those who say this has nothing to do with religion should take a look at Muhammad and  his Friends in the beginning of Islam’ uprising and how they dealt with countries  with rich cultures.  It has anything to do religion.

  13. What a sinister way to control a populace, squashing a basic human need such as music.

    Is the music reception/appreciation part of the controller’s brain unplugged – or, could music soothe these savage beasts?

  14. It’s interesting that this article is in the Guardian, yet the Guardian in all its stupidity won’t allow comments by its readers that might in any way be considered offensive to people on the basis of their religion!!!

    Only last week  I made a comment under another article that people can be trapped in a religion by threats of violence or social pressures, and they removed my comment telling me that people might be offended to hear they were trapped in a religion.

    I wonder if The Guardian would allow me to suggest that someone might be trapped in a house fire, or would they be afraid that such a person might be offended to hear that they were trapped in a building?

  15. I wonder if my wife is some kind of secret super-Taliban agent? I enjoy practising guitar, but she doesn’t even require an AK47 to impose fear and intimidation at home. Everyone knows that rock music has to be played loud. Possibly there’s some kind of suppressed religious objection to loud music. Not quite in the same league as beheading Bono though, despite this possibly being of service to humanity.

  16. As has been stated on here, certain forms of Christainity also used to ban music (some still do) – it is all about removing all forms of human happiness that do not involve the devine…

    This is why religions are against music, dancing, singing, sex, drugs, alcohol, medicine, technology…

    After all, if people can be happy with all these things, they won’t need Jesus/Allah/Moses and will not go to church/mosque/synagogue and will not pay their tithes and do what they are commanded to by their religious overlords…

    The banning of these things is all about fear… not the fear of annoying any gods, but the fear of those with earthly power that they will become irrelevant.

  17. From the article:

    “removed guitars, amplifiers, speakers, microphones and a drum kit from the house, doused them with petrol”

    Aaaaaargh!! Horible image of a pre-CBS Strat, a vinatge Marshall JTM45 or a 50s Les Paul going up in smoke. That would be hellish.

    Mind you, this is nothing new. These guys are so behind the times. Hendrix burned his Strat at Montery in ’67, and Blackmore set a whole Marshall stack ablaze at the Cal-Jam in ’74

    All available to see on Youtube with a little searching…

    Burning instruments is bad enough but threatening to cut the guys fingers off. These people are screwed in the head, big time. Obviously music is seen as a huge threat to their medieval mindset. 

    SG

  18. This post worries me.  The fact that it has 7 ‘likes’ worries me further. 

    We are dealing with people who are in thrall to barbaric Islamic ideas for sure but they are people.  Perhaps you believe in ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’, i don’t know (?).  However, the science seems to suggest that most people are, in fact, capable of great good and great evil and which it is they actually do is hugely influenced, some might even say determined, by the genes that they inherited, the situation in which they find themselves and the ideas they are exposed to.  By all means attack bad ideas as vehemently as possible.  The situation in Mali is truly awful and the ideology that has brought it about is utterly barbaric.  Fair enough, minds infected by these ideas might well be described as rabid.  Still they are people and experience the same range of emotions as the rest of us. 

    It is so easy to think in terms of them and us or the good guys and the bad guys.  It is so hard to remember that but for circumstances, I might be attacking musicians or throwing Jews into the gas chambers but all the evidence seems to suggest that this is the truth.  I thank the good luck that meant that I was born in a peaceful and stable country to a loving family.  I thank the good luck that brought me an education and intelligence that empowers me to see through the awful ideologies that spawn such hatred and fear.  I pity the people who have not enjoyed these benefits and whilst I loath their evil acts, I tremble in fear to think that I might ever say, “They are the evil ones; the barbarians.” and I know that on the day that I do, I will have taken my first step to joining their ranks.

    Peace.

  19. That bit of karaoke just scrapes the surface.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J

    Civilized people — Muslims, Christians and Jews — all understand that the source of freedom and human dignity is the Creator.
    ~ John Ashcroft (born: 1942-05-09 age: 70) Attorney General of the USA in the George W. Bush administration. Author of the Patriot Act. Noted karaoke singer

    We are a nation called to defend freedom — a tradition that is not a grant of any government or document, but is an endowment from God.
    ~ John Ashcroft (born: 1942-05-09 age: 70) Attorney General of the USA in the George W. Bush administration. Author of the Patriot Act. Noted karaoke singer  ∇ In the Afghan war, Americans deposed a theocracy and installed the world’s biggest drug lord, Hamid Karzai, who imposed the same Shari’a law, which requires whipping women for showing their faces in public.

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