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.
"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!""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."
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.
An official decree banning all western music was issued on 22 August by a heavily bearded Islamist spokesman in the city of Gao. "We don't want the music of Satan. Qur'anic verses must take its place. Sharia demands it," the decree says.
The ban comes in the context of a horrifically literal and gratuitous application of Sharia law in all aspects of daily life. Militiamen are cutting off the hands and feet of thieves or stoning adulterers. Smokers, alcohol drinkers and women who are not properly attired are being publicly whipped. As one well-known Touareg musician from Kidal says: "There's a lack of joy. No one is dancing. There are no parties. Everybody's under this kind of spell. It's strange."
It's not at all strange. It's the joyless existence that Islam wants to impose on the entire world--and if you haven't noticed, then you've been asleep for the last decade or more.
At The Corner, Andrew McCarthy weighs in:
The Guardian attributes the atrocious penalties to the “menace of al-Qaida”; it also notes, however, that the “ban [on music] comes in the context of a horrifically literal and gratuitous application of Sharia law in all aspects of daily life.”
Much as I hate to be the bearer of bad news, al Qaeda did not make up sharia law. Islam did. And in the West, it is a key tenet of due process that law is imposed literally — ambiguous laws violate the principle that people of ordinary intelligence must be on fair notice of what is prohibited. There’s nothing “gratuitous” about applying as it is written.
We can keep our heads tucked snug in the sand, or we can recognize the source of the problem.
Many people in this country prefer to keep their heads in the sand. Many people, including our current President prefer to talk about some ridiculous "war on women" that those eeeeeevilllll Republicans are waging. But it is Islam that is waging the real war on women, as Martha McSally reminds us:
I’m a woman warrior. I’ve been fighting for women’s rights and women’s equality my whole life.
You want to talk about a war on women? Walk in my shoes down the streets of Kabul. Walk in my shoes down the streets of Riyadh; where women have to be covered up. Where they’re stoned, where they’re honor killed if they’ve been raped , where they can’t drive and they can’t travel without the permission of a male relative.
That’s a war on women.
She is absolutely correct, but I would go even a step further: Islam represents not only an anti-woman agenda, it promotes a fully anti-human, anti-life, anti-joy and anti-peace agenda. The blood-thirsty god Islam worships thrives on human nisery,suffering and death; Allah revels in destruction and chaos, and his followers never fail to disappoint.
Anything that brings joy or that elevates the spirit, must be banned. Anyone who disagrees will be mercilessly killed.
I have already discussed how humor is almost non existent in the Muslim world ( except for the cruel and sadistic variety whose goal is to demonize non-Muslims).
Let me be clear: I do not believe that Muslims are bad or inherently evil. I believe they are every bit as human as Jews or Christins or Hindus or Buddhists. However, that reality has nothing to do with the supposed "wonderfulness" or "peacefulness" of the Islamic idology they embrace, which as far as I can tell caters to and fosters the absolute worse aspects of human nature.
The ideology of Islam has one purpose and one purpose only: to deny and ultimaely eradicate the essence of any human good. It is a religion that destroys the soul.
Amd. instead of standing up for the good and best within the human spirit; instead of standing firm for the values of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness; the current President of the United States is busy demonizing Republicans even as he accommodates and appeases the real monsters of the world whose nuclear dreams will enable them to facilitate the spread of their viscious misogyny; and to enslave the minds of everyone--whether female or male.
[Political cartoons by Gary McCoy]