Accused of Satanism, Algerian Metalheads Resist on Facebook
Band: Algerian Metal
Author: Feriel Kolli - 2015-09-15
Last month, the Algerian TV channel El Bilad, which has affinities with the Algerian political Islamism, broadcast an incendiary report on Algerian Metalheads, mixing accusations of Satanism and conspiracy theories.
Teaser (in Arabic) of El Bilad's Metal music report
When they discovered the sensationalist teaser that was being broadcast in a loop on the channel, Metalheads retorted via social media, where the national community is best federated to sensitize a maximum number of people, including media platforms.
“Let Us Save Algerian Metal”
A protest petition posted by Avaaz.org has been shared on the different pages of the online community. After the broadcasting of El Bilad’s report, Facebook served as a backdrop for an “anti-propaganda” campaign. Its motto? “Let us save Algerian Metal” or “I am a Metalhead and a Muslim”.
Screen capture of a Facebook post from metalhead Redouane Aoumaeur calling the community to mobilize against the broadcast of El Bilad's report
Zakaria, a 21 year old Algerian student, directed and broadcasted with two of his friends satirical podcasts, which were shared on YouTube and on a Facebook page created for the occasion: “Chouyoukh El Me’den” (the Muslim wise men of Metal).
However, the sensitization and retort operations were unsuccessful: “We were hoping that more people would mobilize themselves in the field. We ended up being three (Metalheads) in the premises of El Bilad.”, regrets Redouane Aouamer.
At 39 years of age, he is the senior of the Metal movement DZ (which stands for “Djazair”, or Algeria), ex bassist of the pioneer band NEANDERTHALIA (Doom and Heavy Metal, created in 1993) and current vocalist of the band LELAHELL (Death Metal).
Rise of Metal During the Civil War
In Algeria, the Metal community lived its golden age during the “black decade”: ten years (December 1991 - February 2002) of terrorism and fratricide war that resulted in more than 100 000 deaths and more than a million people displaced.
Screen capture of a photo posted on Algerian Metal Community's Facebook Page featuring its co-founder, Hichem Kikai, sporting an Algerian flag at Wacken Fest in 2010 in Germany (Algerian Metal Community)
The Metal movement somehow “took advantage” of the war’s chaos: the authorities were too busy with the fight against terrorism. As for the armed Islamists, hostile to all forms of music, they were barely informed of the existence of that movement. But the rise of the radical Islamism of the 1990s left behind it a mark of ideological conservatism.
If, during the war, the government was able to support the initiatives of the Metal scene, today, many cultural representatives, more conservative, block access to rehearsal studios and concert venues (of which the vast majority is still under the monopoly of the government) for a movement that they accuse of being either “aging”, “too occidentalized” or “unprofitable”.
The only solutions would be either to rely on the mutual aid of the Metal community or to pass by social media, which constitute the last breath of the cultural resistance.
Ramzy Abbas, 27 years old, vocalist and guitarist/bassist in many Metal bands – JUGULATOR (Thrash Metal), ATAKOR (Heavy Progressive Rock) and THOWAR (Progressive Metal) – believes that: “With the culture of sharing generated by Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Reverbnation or YouTube, Algerian Metalheads have found an indispensable tool to make themselves known.”
The Internet, a Privileged Broadcasting Platform
This non lucrative event platform attempts to revive the local scene by organizing a series of festivals and concerts promoted on the group’s Facebook page as well as their radio web (Ex-Fest Radio Web).
Screen capture of profile and timeline pictures of Algerian Metal Community Facebook Page
Nour Islem Aidi, a 27 year old student and member of Ex-Fest, considers that: “The concerts promoted via social media still drain people in Algeria, and despite the critics, they remain the most efficient gathering tool to date. I would even say that the recent awakening of the Metal community is largely related to the expansion of the use of the Internet and community networks in Algerian houses."
That being said, Metalheads 2.0 are sometimes harshly judged by the great elders, who believe that the younger generation is easily discouraged and is not working towards sustaining a still fragile scene. According to Redouane Aouamer: “We thought that with social media, we could unite a maximum number of people in concerts, but part of the community prefers to stay at home to watch the lives that are retransmitted on the Internet”.
Author: Feriel Kolli
Translation by: Carmina Khairallah
Source: Rue 89 - L'Obs