Thursday, May 03, 2007

Islamism vs. Dance

Earlier this week, five people were found guilty of plotting bomb attacks in the London area. One of the convicted had apparently been heard to talk of the Ministry of Sound as a potential target, saying: "No one can turn around and say, 'Oh, they were innocent', those slags dancing around. Do you understand what I mean?".

No evidence was presented that there was a definite plan to attack the South London club - the comment might have expressed a fantasy - but it does indicate a misogyny and hostility to dancing that is common in radical Islamism (but by no means in Muslim cultures more generally). In this it shares with other fundamentalist forms of religion, including Christian variants, a profound hatred of the female body in pleasurable motion.

For instance Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1920s, proposed in relation to women: "a campaign against ostentation in dress and loose behavior... private meetings between men and women, unless within the permitted degrees of relationship, to be counted as a crime for which both will be censured ... the closure of morally undesirable ballrooms and dance-halls, and the prohibition of dancing and other such pastimes...".

Beyoncé Knowles, freedom fighter notes how this conflict between Islamism and dance is playing out across the world, quoting for instance the case of Indonesia where 'a 24-year-old singer from East Java named Inul Daratista (pictured) unleashed a sexual revolution simply by rotating her lower body onstage in such a way as to cause millions of men to worship her and millions of women to emulate her. Inul's dance style, which she calls "drilling," is indistinguishable from a move that has been ubiquitous in hip-hop clubs and videos for years, and which Beyoncé recently brought to the mainstream, called "booty popping." Islamic authorities in several Indonesian provinces have banned the dance, Muslim clerics have called for a national boycott of Inul's performances and pray for rain to keep fans away from her shows'.

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