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Paris attacks: Musicians must not be silenced by Islamist zealots

Sunday 22 November 2015, by siawi3

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/12002612/Paris-attacks-Musicians-must-not-be-silenced-by-Islamist-zealots.html

[(Paris attacks: Musicians must not be silenced by Islamist zealots
The power of music to unite is exactly what the murderous terrorists at the Bataclan wanted to stop)]

Photo: Eagles Of Death Metal play at Le Bataclan prior to the attack Photo: Photoshot Neil McCormick

By Neil McCormick

9:51AM GMT 18 Nov 2015

Are rock bands running scared from Europe? Foo Fighters, Deftones and Prince have all cancelled tours in the wake of the Paris attack. Just when you want musicians to stand up and be counted, they seem to be fleeing in the face of terror.

“Do I stay and run away and leave it all behind?” Dave Grohl sings on the Foo Fighters anthem Times Like These before concluding, “It’s times like these we learn to live again.”

Imagine what that would have sounded like in the Paris arena where the beloved American rock band was due to play on Monday night. But the show has not gone on. The band posted a message on Facebook: “In light of this senseless violence, the closing of borders, and international mourning, we can’t continue right now. There is no other way to say it.”

“At Wembley Stadium, 80,000 football fans from France and England joined together to sing La Marseillaise”

But there are other ways to say it. At Wembley Stadium, 80,000 football fans from France and England joined together to sing La Marseillaise, bellowing out “Contre nous de la tyrannie, L’étendard sanglant est levé.” Against us tyranny raises its bloody banner.

Last Saturday, Madonna performed in Stockholm, beautifully articulating the unease and defiance of any entertainer at a time of tragedy. “I feel torn. Why am I up here dancing and having fun when people are crying over the loss of their loved ones?

However, that is exactly what [these terrorists] want to do. They want to silence us, and we won’t let them. We will never let them.” She then led the crowd in a singalong of Like A Prayer. I can imagine what that felt like, tens of thousands raising their voices in amity among like-minded souls.

Music is a powerful rallying point, an art form with unity at its very core. We share songs, we harmonise on melodies, we sing along. A moment like this is precisely when a concert hall should be full rather than empty. After all, the power of music to unite is exactly what these nihilistic terrorists tried to disrupt.

The slaughter at the Bataclan is unprecedented. There have, of course, been violent incidents at concerts, from the murderous Hell’s Angel attack at the Rolling Stones Altamont free festival in 1969 to rioting by Metallica and Guns N Roses fans in Montreal in 1992.

But this targeted slaughter of fans is different. The Eagles of Death Metal, who were on stage when the murderers struck on Friday night, play the kind of raucous, melodic, uplifting music that makes you want to shake your body and sing at the top of your voice. Their name is gently self-mocking. No wonder Isil hate such performers – the ability to laugh at oneself is beyond them.

Is this the clash of civilisations reduced to the petty meanness of particularly violent party-poopers, determined that if they can’t have a good time, no one else will? Some Muslim fundamentalists seem to loathe culture in general and music in particular.

The use of music is, at best, a grey area in Koranic law, with reductive interpretations claiming music should only be made to worship Allah; others still more draconian forbid music altogether.

Under the Taliban rule of Afghanistan it was a crime to possess a radio. When Sharia was imposed on parts of Northern Mali in 2012 during the civil war, musical expression was outlawed, punishable by death. Militants destroyed recording studios, dismantled radio stations and amputated the limbs of people caught playing instruments.

This is a vision Isil would impose on the rest of us: a world without melody. It is how a bunch of mad zealots can convince themselves that unarmed kids spending their leisure time listening to a favourite band are legitimate military targets.

“Music, dancing and singing is not just confined to some dusty corner of the counterculture – it is a part of everyone’s everyday existence”

This is not our way. Music, dancing and singing is not just confined to some dusty corner of the counterculture – it is a part of everyone’s everyday existence. From evenings at home watching X Factor, to nights on the town dancing at clubs, from waving flags at the Proms to headbanging to rock bands in sweaty dives, music is the very rhythm of western life. The Bataclan massacre was, as the U2 singer Bono put it, a “direct hit on music”.

It is the very nature of terrorism to try to hit where it hurts. So if bands shy away from touring Europe, if audiences grow fearful of gathering to watch them, we will all suffer. This is when we need musicians to sing up and be counted. Like the football fans at Wembley, it is time for rock and roll to show us what it is made of.