AKU-ISMC Alumnus Mohamed Meqdad recently presented at two conferences, one in the UK and one in Austria. The Home of Metal Conference in Wolverhampton, UK and the 6th International Conference on Middle Eastern and North African Popular Culture both took place in September 2011.
Meqdad presented his paper entitled "Heavy Metal Arab World" where he explored various aspects of heavy metal music within Muslim contexts.
Metal scenes in the Middle East have recently enjoyed some exposure in international media and academic circles, which often revolved around metal music vis-à-vis Islam. In this paper I seek to show -through a comparative study of reactions to metal music in a number of Arab countries- that there are other influential factors that shape responses to metal music and its fans.
These factors include a 'paranoia' on the part of powerful security agencies about any collectivity in the public sphere regardless of its nature; an Arab nationalist discourse of cultural authenticity that continues to lead debates over cultural identity in most Arab countries; and finally a general rejection on the part of the Arab public of the idea of a group of youth deviating from the dominant culture of society and forming their own 'subculture/scene'.
Particular attention is given to the metal scene in Syria as it offers valuable insights into the situation of metal in the Arab world in general. In addition, reactions to the growing visibility of emos in some Arab metropolises are contrasted with reactions to metalheads to add a further comparative perspective.
Mr Sohail Merchant
Assistant Registrar, AKU-ISMC