Lebanon's Heavy Metal Musicians Discuss Censorship

Susannah Tarbush of Lebanon's Ya Libnan reports:

Heavy metal music has come in for harassment and censorship over in Lebanon at various times over the years because of its alleged satanic links. (Similar moves against heavy metal and its fans have been seen in Egypt and Morocco).

Moe Hamzeh, leader and founder in 1992 of the Beirut-based rock group THE KORDZ described to Burkhalter the clampdown on metal music in the 1990s. After the singer Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994, a young man in Beirut also killed himself and the authorities claimed he had been influenced to do so by Cobain.

Cyrille Najjar, a co-founder in 1996 of the "gothic" group THE ARCANE recalls how some of his friends were put in prison and beaten up. Burkhalter found that Garo Gdanian, the leader of the death metal group WEEPING WILLOW did not seem to care too much about censorship. "At the same time his band practises quite a lot of self-censorship — a strategy that is not unknown in the Lebanese metal scene." Some albums of metal music are still on a black list.

Xardas, a 24-year-old Lebanese from Tripoli whose real name is Osman Arabi, suffered a striking case of music censorship in June 2006. Xardas is a composer and producer of a genre of electronic music known as "dark ambient". In April 2006 he released an album entitled "Acid Vomit. Human Genocide" on the U.S. record label Autumn Wind Productions.

When the U.S. record label sent 150 of the CDs to Xardas they were seized by General Security on the grounds that they were "satanic" and "offensive to people's morals". Xardas was summoned by the headquarters of General Security, and had to sign a paper promising he would not send or receive any packages containing "dark, harsh or weird" music. He was warned that if he broke his promise he would be arrested and jailed without trial.

Read the entire article at Ya Libnan.

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