Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Iran Peace Museum

Iran Peace Museum echoes message of peace and friendship to worldhttp://photos9.flickr.com/12781741_5afc01e21e_m.jpg

The Tehran Peace Museum
moves into a new home.

Dear Friends,

On 29 June, the national day for campaigning against chemical & Biological weapons, the memorial ceremony for commemorating the victims of chemical weapons went very well in Tehran City Park .

In that ceremony, the peace monument was unveiled by Mayor of Tehran and the Tehran peace museum project was formally started, the Museum is located in the same park and is open for public visit but the project of improving it, is ongoing. The official opening ceremony of the Tehran Peace museum will be held on international day for Peace – 21 Sep -

We look forward to meeting you in Tehran Peace Museum .

Best wishes;


Shahriar Khateri

SCVWS/Tehran Peace Museum


Tehran, Dec 24, IRNA

Iran-Peace Museum
Iran Peace Museum sponsored by the society advocating victims of chemical weapons echoes the nation's message of peace and friendship to the world and gives documents about the crimes perpetrated by the US-backed Saddam's regime against Iranians in 1980s.

"The Peace Museum brought together the voices of Iranian "victims of chemical warfare to speak of the sinister ills of war," a brochure reads on entry of the museum.

Once a simple and largely unknown exhibit in the basement of the society for chemical weapons victims advocacy is being
administered by Shahriar Khateri, war veteran and victim of chemical warfare.

Tehran's Mayor Mohammed Baqer Qalibaf inaugurated the monument and the building being donated by the city for the museum.

The monument, with its sculpture of a white dove mounted on a marble pedestal at the center of Tehran's large City Park, is literally across the street from City Hall, its message written in six languages.

The new museum building stands on park grounds 100 yards away, its large new sign evidence of a planned full opening in coming months.

The museum and monument were inaugurated in June on the 20th anniversary of the Iraqi gassing of Sardasht, in western Iran, which left more than 100 dead, mostly civilians. For Iranians, Sardasht is a symbol of Iraq's extensive use of chemical weapons in the war against Iran, the first use since World War I.

"That terrible suffering gave us a new understanding of the cruelty of war, the terror of weapons of mass destruction, and the importance of peace," the inscription reads.

"Until the day when all people on Earth can live in peace, we will continuously send messages of peace to the world."
Even the opening ceremony broke new ground. "For the first time it was a celebration, instead of mourning; it was a new way of respecting," Khateri said.

"There were a new kind of people, children drawing for peace," Steve Fryburg, director of the Dayton Peace Museum in Ohio, has visited Iran twice to work with the Tehran Peace Museum.

"The people of peace around the world, including the Middle East," he says.

"Yet it is the violent news that is given priority in media coverage. This only distorts people's perceptions of other countries and cultures, increases fear, and reduces the chances for peace." "At such a critical time in our relations with Iran, it is very important for people not to get a distorted view about Iran and its people," says Mr. Fryburg.

The idea for the museum emerged in 2005, when Khateri was in Ypres, Belgium, at a conference marking the 90th anniversary of the first modern use of chemical weapons.

He met the coordinator of the global peace museum network, who gave strong encouragement.

While many nations honor sacrifices made in war - Arlington National Cemetery is but one example in the West - many issues of setting up a peace museum here are specific to Iran.

For Khateri, it had to start with his own epiphany more than a decade ago, when he was part of a group collecting remains of soldiers from mine-laced front lines near Iraq.

"Dozens of my close friends were killed in the war and hundreds were wounded, so I really respect their cause," says Khateri.

News sent: 19:33 Monday December 24, 2007 Print

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Jawdat Said (b. 1931)

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jawdat Said (Arabic: جودت سعيد) (born 1931) is an Islamic scholar, who belongs to the School of the famous Islamic thinkers professor Malek Bennabi and Muhammad Iqbal.


Said was born in the village of Bir Ajam in the governorate of Quneitra in the Golan Heights in Syria. He completed his primary education in the city of Quneitra, then his father sent him to continue his studies in Egypt (Al Azhar) in 1946, where he complete the secondary studies. He studied in the Faculty of Arabic Language, and got a degree in Arabic language.

On 1956 he encountered Professor Malek Bennabi in the last stages of his presence in Egypt through the book ((rebirth)). He immediately felt that Malik has something different, soon he had the opportunity to meeting him personally before leaving Egypt for good.

Said left Cairo for Saudi Arabia, where he lived almost a year, during which the birth of the United Arab Republic by the union between Syria and Egypt came into existence. Said then returned to Syria (known then as the Northern Region of the United Arab Republic) to complete military service; while he was in the army, the separation of the union took place. While everyone complied with the orders given by commanders in the military, he clearly opposed to participate in any military actions against the "Union", leading officials to prompt him to the detention under office arrest, and did not leave until after the end of the matter.

He finished military service and was appointed to be a teacher at Damascus high schools of Arabic language. No sooner had he started, he was arrested for his intellectual activity. Despite repeated arrests and the issuance of decisions to move him to schools in various regions across Syria, he did not leave the field of teaching until a decision was made to discharge him from his work in the late 1960s.

After the 1973 war, the city of Quneitra and some villages of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights were liberated. Among the liberated villages after being occupied for almost 6 years, was Ber Ajam. Now that he was unemployed, Said decided to return to settle there and restore the house with his family. Said lives there still, working in beekeeping, agriculture, and keeping up with the intellectual activities, and abreast of developments and discussions in the Arab, Islamic, and global arena.

[edit] His works and writings

[edit] Religion and Law, 2001 (In English and Arabic)

From the introduction of the book:

"We live in a world in which four fifths of its population live in frustration while the other fifth lives in fear. The United Nations, our world's "figleaf," does not hide the shame of humanity but rather scandalizes humanity's malaise. It is troubling that the League of Nations and the United Nations were born after two world wars. Humanity's unity should come as a natural birth and not as the result of a cesarean section, i.e., through violent global wars. This is reminiscent of the ages of epidemics. Then, because of ignorance about the causes behind these illnesses, plagues swept through communities, leaving millions of dead behind. Yet, after technology made it possible for us to see smaller forms of life and medicine brought us a better understanding of germs, communities became better equipped to halt disease and heal the sufferers.

If a country now is devastated by an epidemic, we blame it on the lack of sufficient hygiene. So too, the wars that erupt here and there are caused by ignorance of the intellectual organisms that infect communities with hate and influence people to commit atrocities. In today's world, relying on science, we concern ourselves with preventing germ warfare while sheltering the intellectual viruses that destroy us: our intellectual foods are still polluted. We cannot afford to continue to be confused or ignorant about these invasive germs".

[edit] The Doctrine of the First Son of Adam , 1964 (in Arabic)

Through this book (The Doctrine of the First Son of Adam or The Problem of Violence in The Islamic Action), Said presented his idea of the non-violence in the Islamic Action, he explained the story of the Son of Adam mentioned in the Koran. The story says that the two sons of presented a sacrifice (to Allah): it was accepted from one, but not from the other. The latter said: "Be sure I will slay thee." "Surely," said the former, "Allah doth accept of the sacrifice of those who are righteous. [28] "If thou dost stretch thy hand against me, to slay me, it is not for me to stretch my hand against thee to slay thee: for I do fear Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds. [29] "For me, I intend to let thee draw on thyself my sin as well as thine, for thou wilt be among the Companions of the Fire, and that is the reward of those who do wrong."

The book appeared in the mid-1960s, before the emergence of the (Ikhwan) trend in Syria and the incidents of violence and widespread arrests among activists. Some believe that Said's experience in Egypt, recognizing that what has been between the Authority and the Muslim Brotherhood there is expected to be repeated in Syria. Jawdat's first book appeared only after he was arrested for the first time on a background of his intellectual activity. After the experience of detention, he felt that it was necessary to write down some of the ideas he had in mind, especially those related to nonviolence.

Said distinguishes between the Islamic Jihad in the phase of building the(state), and Jihad after that. This was in response to some rejection raised on the idea claiming that non-violence contradicts with jihad (in the sense of fighting), It is proven that the Prophet (Mohammed) had exercised during his time. Jihad at a the phase of building the state or good governance should use nonviolent jihad. Access to power and rule by force and sword is not acceptable in Islam at all. A change that happens by force dose not change the society in deed, but Hercules comes and Hercules goes, Therefore, Prophet (Mohammed) prevented his followers from defending themselves while they were in Mecca, but permitted them to fight only after an adult community in the city of Medina was established without violence, but by persuading the public, When the adult community (or the Democratic in modern terms) is built it becomes his duty to stand by the oppressed and defend its peace

[edit] Until they change what is in themselves, 1972 (in Arabic)

Said makes of the Quranic verse (God does not change a people until they change what is in themselves) a title and a starting point, to prove that in order to solve a problem or change a situation, the priority of change starts from ourselves.

Said argues that the law in this verse, is general and applies to all human beings, and not especially Muslims, and that it is a social Law not individual law, and that it contains two phases of change: A change done by God and a change by people. The First change is a result of the second, God will not change until the people change first.

The writer concludes his book by saying:

"there are many simple Quranic facts we hear but not understand! How many of the disasters arise from this neglect and inattention! How many hundreds of thousands of young people are disappointed, or lose confidence in the seriousness of religious subjects, when they are exposed to the truth, because they live an illusion! It is a problem of a society, the problem of a lost generation replete with illusions."

[edit] Work Is Ability and will (in Arabic)

The writer says that if a firm will for work met with a complete capability and the presence of suitable conditions and the absence of impediments, then the action is compulsory.

Muslims have all the will and the physical capability which can solve their problems and to participate to influence events in the world and face the colonial and intellectual invasion, but he adds that the real destitution is in their understanding of the laws of changing themselves and their communities, as they usually claim their rights, rather than performing their duties, and are concerned with having a state rather than the establishing the society, they adopt the pattern of violence and coercion not the scientific method and persuasion...

[edit] Read! and your Lord is Most generous, 1987 (in Arabic)

The Rush to condemn "Science" or "knowledge" (which was the original title to this book) holds a great loss, the writer says, because nothing can save us other than "knowledge". What we condemned is either Science (Knowledge) so that we must accept or ignorance so we reject.

The writer states and responds in his book to some common sayings and writings of some Muslims which suggest that "science is unable to solve problems". And that there is something else out there that we should depend on to work out our problems.

[edit] Be as Adam's son, 1996 (in Arabic)

Said discussed nearly all the main topics of his world, he talks in this book about Nonviolence, History, Language, Quran, Science and Knowledge, Knowledge and Power, the prophetic concept to change, Jihad, the two ways to read Quran, Arnold J. Toynbee and the system of civilization, Foucault and History, Truth falsehood and consequences, the deference between the European Union and the United Nations, the difference between the sick and the sickness, UN and Veto.

[edit] External links

Jawdat Said
Islam als gewaltlose Religion

Der in der westlichen Welt wenig beachtete Denker Jawdat Said propagiert seit 40 Jahren einen gewaltlosen Islam. Seine Bücher werden von islamischen Aktivisten in der arabischen Welt viel gelesen und diskutiert. Bashar Humeid stellt ihn vor.

| Bild: Der syrische Denker Jawdat Said während eines Gesprächs mit Al Jazeera; © Al Jazeera
Die Menschen sollen Wissen auf der Erde und nicht in den Versen des Korans suchen, fordert Jawdat Said
Das 1966 erschienene Buch "Die Schule von Adams erstem Sohn: Das Problem der Gewalt in der islamischen Welt" ist das erste ausformulierte Konzept für Gewaltlosigkeit in der modernen islamischen Bewegung. Das Buch ist bis heute auf dem islamischen Buchmarkt erhältlich- mittelerweile in der fünften Auflage.

Geschrieben hatte es der 1931 in Syrien geborene Jawdat Said, der in seiner frühen Jugend nach Ägypten ging, um an der Azhar-Universität ein Studium der arabischen Sprache zu absolvieren. Dort engagierte er sich im ägyptischen Kulturleben. Außerdem stand er der islamischen Bewegung jener Zeit nahe.

Schon damals warnte Said vor den negativen Folgen der Gewalt durch die islamische Bewegung in Ägypten und schrieb sein Buch als direkte Reaktion auf die Schriften von Sayyid Qutb (gest. 1966), der als Vater des militanten Islam gilt.

Auch andere Denker der islamischen Szene wandten sich damals gegen Qutb, so etwa Hasan al-Hudaybi, der oberste geistige Führer der ägyptischen Muslimbrüder.

Zu Beginn der 1980er Jahre begannen sich die Muslimbrüder in Syrien - trotz Saids Warnungen - gegen die Regierung von Hafez al-Asad aufzulehnen. Die Revolte wurde jedoch blutig niedergeschlagen und endete 1982 mit einem Massaker in der Stadt Hama.

Nach dieser Niederlage setzte man sich innerhalb der Bewegung intensiv mit dem Gedanken der Demilitarisierung auseinander. Zu jener Zeit gewannen die Schriften Jawdat Saids in den Kreisen der islamischen Aktivisten zunehmend an Popularität.

Das Konzept der Gewaltlosigkeit bei Said

In der Einleitung seines Buches "Die Schule von Adams erstem Sohn" stellt sich Jawdat Said in die Tradition islamischer Reform-Schriftsteller wie Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi (gest. 1902) und Muhammad Iqbal (gest. 1938), der mystische Dichter und Philosph aus Indien.

Said schreibt auch dem algerischen Schriftsteller Malik bin-Nabi (gest. 1973) und seinem Buch "Die Bedingungen des Aufschwungs" eine besondere Rolle zu.

Das gemeinsame Merkmal dieser Denker ist die Betonung auf Reformen innerhalb der islamischen Gesellschaften. Sie sehen die Probleme ihrer Gesellschaften eher als Folge einer internen Fehlentwicklung und weniger als Resultat der kolonialistischen Intervention.

Saids Werke über Gewaltlosigkeit sind Teil einer Reihe, die persönliche und gesellschaftliche Probleme behandeln und die Funktion eines Wegweisers für islamische Aktivisten haben. Sie sprechen in erster Linie die islamische Jugend an und präsentieren ihnen einen islamischen Lebensweg ohne Gewalt.

Gewaltlosigkeit als Gebot Gottes

Diesen Weg sieht Said im Koran begründet. In Sure 5, Vers 27–31 wird beschrieben, wie der "gottesfürchtige Abel" es sogar vermied, sich gegen seinen Bruder zu verteidigen, obwohl Kain ihn letztlich ermordete.

Said sieht es als eine Herausforderung für den Menschen, so zu reagieren, "wie Adams erster Sohn, der sich nicht gegen den Angriff seines Bruders verteidigte". Die Gewaltlosigkeit von Adams Sohn stellt für ihn "eine für die ganze Menschheit nachahmenswerte Position dar, deren Nachahmung zu Gottes Geboten gehört".

Zudem führt Said die Geschichten der verschiedenen Propheten im Koran an und zeigt, dass der einzige Vorwurf, mit dem sie sich konfrontiert sahen, ihr Glaube an den einen Schöpfer war. Keiner von ihnen hatte jedoch versucht, seine Ideen gewaltsam zu verbreiten.

Darin sieht Said ein deutliches Indiz dafür, dass die Gewaltausübung nicht mit dem Kern des koranischen Glaubens vereinbar ist.

Doch wie erklärt Said die anderen koranischen Verse, die zum Kampf aufrufen?

Unterschiedliche Koraninterpretationen

Nach Said stellt der Koran zwei Bedingungen für einen legitmen Krieg. Erstens darf Krieg nur ausgerufen werden, wenn der Gegner den koranischen Grundsatzt "Kein Zwang in der Religion", das heißt "die Meinungsfreiheit" missachtet.

Zweistens muss der Staat, der den Krieg ausruft, diesen Grundsatz selbst achten.

In seinem Buch "Lies! Denn dein Herr ist der Allgütige" von 1988 entwickelt Said einen wichtigen Ansatz für die Interpretation des Korans und untermauert damit sein Konzept für einen gewaltlosen Islam.

Said hebt hervor, dass die verschiedenen Interpretationen des koranischen Textes schon für die frühen Nachfolger des Propheten Mohammad eine Herausforderung darstellten.

Er zitiert eine Aussage des vierten Kalifen, Ali ibn Abi Talib, der im Streit mit seinen Gegnern (den Kharidschiten) forderte, die Texte außer Acht zu lassen, da jede Gruppe ihre eigene Sichtweise habe. Um zu einem Ergebnis zu kommen, sollten vielmehr praktische Aspekte diskutiert werden.

Said folgert daraus, dass der Koran die Menschen auffordere, Wissen auf der Erde und nicht in den Texten des Korans zu suchen. Der Aufruf zur "Wanderung auf Erden" wird im Koran dreizehnmal wiederholt. Said folgert daraus, dass es Teil der Offenbarung sei, nach Erkenntnissen über die Welt, ihre Geschichte und ihre Gesellschaften zu suchen. Darin liegt für ihn die "tiefe Bedeutung des Wunders des Korans".

Neue Koraninterpretation

Gepaart wird die Aufforderung zu "wandern" mit der zu lesen. Denn "Lies!" ist das erste Wort, das dem Propheten Muhammad offenbart wurde. Said interpretiert dies als eine Aufforderung dazu, die Geschichte der menschlichen Erfahrungen kennen zu lernen, denn diese sei hauptsächlich durch Lesen zugänglich.

Sich auf Ansätze aus der islamischen Tradition stützend, ebnet Said damit einer neuen Koraninterpretation den Weg, die nicht mehr die Analyse des koranischen Textes, sondern die menschliche Erfahrung in den Vordergrund stellt.

Saids Interpretationen wurden deshalb von konservativen Denkern scharf attakiert. Einer von ihnen, Adel al-Tal, beschuldigte Said in einem 1995 verfassten Buch, er sei ein "materialistischer Denker mit islamischem Deckmantel".

Auseinandersetzung zwischen Wissenschaft und Gewalt

Doch bis heute bleibt Said dem koranischen Text treu. Er zitiert häufig aus dem Koran, um sein Konzept der Gewaltlosigkeit zu untermauern.

Am häufigsten erwähnt er Sure 2, Vers 30-33, in der die Engel gegen die Entscheidung Gottes protestieren, auf Erden einen Nachfolger einzusetzen. Ihr Argument: Dieser werde nur Unheil stiften und Blut vergießen. Als Anwort lehrt Gott Adam "alle Dinge samt ihren Namen".

Said versteht diese Stelle als eine symbolische Auseinandersetzung zwischen Wissenschaft und Gewalt. In der Sprache des koranischen Verses bedeutet das, eine Auseinandersetzung zwischen "Namen" und "dem Unheilstiften und Blutvergießen".

Der Mensch, so folgert Said, solle und könne mit der ihm von Gott gegebenen Vernunft den Frieden auf Erden vollbringen.

Bashar Humeid

© Qantara.de 2006

Jawdat Said
Islam as a Violence-Free Religion

Philosopher Jawdat Said, little known in the West, has been propagating a vision of Islam free of violence for the past 40 years. His books have been widely read and discussed by Islamic activists in the Arab world. A profile by Bashar Humeid

| Bild: Jawdat Said (photo: © Al Jazeera)
Bild vergr�ssern Jawdat Said challenges people to search for knowledge on earth, and not in the verses of the Koran
Published in 1966, the book "The Doctrine of the First Son of Adam: The Problem of Violence in the Islamic World" was the first publication in the modern Islamic movement to present a concept of non-violence. Now in its fifth edition, the book is still available today.

It was written by Jawdat Said, born in Syria in 1931, who moved to Egypt at a young age to study the Arabic language at Azhar University. While there, he took an active part in the cultural life of Egypt. He was also closely connected to the Islamic movement of that period.

Even then, Said warned against the negative effects of the violence being carried out by the Islamic movement in Egypt, and wrote his book as a direct response to the writings of Sayyid Qutb, who died in 1966 and is considered the father of militant Islam.

Other intellectuals of the Islamic world also turned against Qutb at the time, including for example Hasan al-Hudaybi, the leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

In the early 1980s, the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria began – in spite of Said's warnings – to rebel against the government of Hafez al-Asad. However, the revolt was put down with much bloodshed, and ended in 1982 with a massacre in the city of Hama.

Following this defeat, the movement began seriously entertaining the idea of demilitarization. At the time, the writings of Jawdat Said became increasingly popular in Islamic activist circles.

Said's concept of non-violence

In the introduction to his book "The Doctrine of the First Son of Adam," Jawdat Said places himself in the tradition of Islamic reformers such as Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi (who died in 1902) and Muhammad Iqbal (who died in 1938), the mystic poet and philosopher from India.

Said also stressed the importance of the Algerian writer Malik bin-Nabi (who died in 1973) and his book, "The Conditions of Renaissance."

What these philosophers have in common is an emphasis on reformation within Islamic societies. They see the problems in their societies as the result more of unfortunate internal developments than of colonial intervention.

Said's works about non-violence are part of a series of writings that deal with personal and societal problems, and that serve as a guidepost for Islamic activists. They primarily address Islamic youth, and present an Islamic way of life that eschews violence.

Non-violence as a divine commandment

Said sees this approach as grounded in the Koran. In Sure 5, verses 27–31, one can read how the "God-fearing Abel" even declined to defend himself against his brother, although in the end, Cain murdered him.

Said sees this is a quest of mankind, to react "like Adam's firstborn son, who did not defend himself against the attacks of his brother." The non-violence exhibited by Adam's son represents, in Said's view, "a position to be aspired to by all mankind, and adhering to it is one of God's commandments."

In addition, Said refers to the stories of the various different prophets in the Koran and points out that the only charges they were accused of was their belief in the one God of creation. None of them, however, attempted to spread his ideas by means of violence.

Said sees this is a clear indication that the practice of violence is incompatible with the core faith of the Koran. But how does Said explain the other verses of Koran that call the faithful to battle?

Different interpretations of the Koran

According to Said's view, the Koran specifies two prerequisites for a legitimate war. First, war may only be declared if the opponent defies the fundamental Koranic principle of "no coercion of religion," i.e. if the enemy violates the principle of "freedom of opinion."

Second, the nation that declares war must itself adhere to this principle.

In his 1988 book "Read! For The Lord Your God is Benevolent," Said supports his view of an Islam free of violence by developing an important approach to the interpretation of the Koran.

Said points out that the various different interpretations of the text of the Koran presented a challenge even for the early followers of the Prophet Mohammad.

He quotes the fourth Caliph, Ali ibn Abi Talib, who in a disagreement with his opponents (the Kharijites) demanded disregarding the texts because each group had its own way of interpreting them. Instead, practical aspects should be discussed in an effort to reach a satisfying conclusion.

Said concludes from this that the Koran challenges people to search for truth in the real world and not in the texts of the Koran. The call to "wander the earth" is repeated 13 times in the Koran. Said thus concludes that this is a part of the divine revelation: to search for knowledge about the world, its history and its societies. Therein lies for him the "profound meaning and wonder of the Koran."

New interpretations of the Koran

The demand to "wander" is coupled with the demand to read. After all, "Read!" is the first word that was revealed to the prophet Muhammad. Said interprets this as a call to become familiar with the history of the human experience, which is primarily accessible through reading.

Supporting his view with approaches from the Islamic tradition, Said thus paves the way for a new interpretation of the Koran that no longer emphasizes the analysis of the sacred texts but rather places human experience in the forefront.

For this reason, Said's interpretations were sharply attacked by conservative thinkers. One of them, Adel al-Tal, wrote a book in 1995 in which he accused Said of being a "materialist in an Islamic disguise."

Conflict between science and violence

But to this day, Said has remained true to the text of the Koran. He quotes the Koran often to support his view of non-violence.

The passage he quotes most often is Sure 2, verses 30-33, in which the angels protest God's decision to put a successor on earth. Their argument: This representative will do nothing but create trouble and spill blood. In response, God teaches Adam "all things and their names."

Said understands this passage as a symbolic dispute between science and violence. In the language of the verses of the Koran, this means a dispute between "naming names" and "creating trouble and spilling blood."

Mankind, Said concludes, should and can use its God-given ability to reason to achieve peace on earth.

Bashar Humeid

© Qantara.de 2006

Translated from the German by Mark Rossman


J A W D A T S A I D . N E T

Eng: Jawdat Identifies Himself >< Low&Religion >< Film: Moments With Jawdat - 6.6 MB

Thursday, December 20, 2007

elin o'Hara slavick

Bomb after Bomb: A Violent Cartography

See larger image
Bomb after Bomb: A Violent Cartography (Paperback)
by elin o'Hara slavick (Author), Carol Mavor (Author), Howard Zinn (Foreword), Catherine Lutz (Contributor)

A Violent Cartography

Bomb After Bomb

By Howard Zinn

This essay serves as the introduction to Bomb After Bomb: a Violent Cartography, a collection of drawings illustrating the history of bombing by elin o'Hara slavick. o'Hara slavick is a professor of art at the University of North Carolina. More of her visionary work can be viewed on her website. AC / JSC

12/17/07 "Counterpunch" -- - Perhaps it is fitting that elin o'Hara slavick's extraordinary evocation of bombings by the United States government be preceded by some words from a bombardier who flew bombing missions for the U.S. Air Corps in the second World War. At least one of her drawings is based on a bombing I participated in near the very end of the war--the destruction of the French seaside resort of Royan, on the Atlantic coast.

As I look at her drawings, I become painfully aware of how ignorant I was, when I dropped those bombs on France and on cities in Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, of the effects of those bombings on human beings. Not because she shows us bloody corpses, amputated limbs, skin shredded by napalm. She does not do that. But her drawings, in ways that I cannot comprehend, compel me to envision such scenes.

I am stunned by the thought that we, the "civilized" nations, have bombed cities and country sides and islands for a hundred years. Yet, here in the United States, which is responsible for most of that, the public, as was true of me, does not understand--I mean really understand--what bombs do to people. That failure of imagination, I believe, is critical to explaining why we still have wars, why we accept bombing as a common accompaniment to our foreign policies, without horror or disgust.

We in this country, unlike people in Europe or Japan or Africa or the Middle East, or the Caribbean, have not had the experience of being bombed. That is why, when the Twin Towers in New York exploded on September 11, there was such shock and disbelief. This turned quickly, under the impact of government propaganda, into a callous approval of bombing Afghanistan, and a failure to see that the corpses of Afghans were the counterparts of those in Manhattan.

We might think that at least those individuals in the U.S. Air Force who dropped bombs on civilian populations were aware of what terror they were inflicting, but as one of those I can testify that this is not so. Bombing from five miles high, I and my fellow crew members could not see what was happening on the ground. We could not hear screams or see blood, could not see torn bodies, crushed limbs. Is it any wonder we see fliers going out on mission after mission, apparently unmoved by thoughts of what they have wrought.

It was not until after the war, when I read John Hersey's interviews with Japanese survivors of Hiroshima, who described what they had endured, that I became aware, in excruciating detail, of what my bombs had done.

I then looked further. I learned of the firebombing of Tokyo in March of 1945, in which perhaps a hundred thousand people died.

I learned about the bombing of Dresden, and the creation of a firestorm which cost the lives of 80,000 to 100,000 residents of that city.

I learned of the bombing of Hamburg and Frankfurt and other cities in Europe.

We know now that perhaps 600,000 civilians--men, women, and children-died in the bombings of Europe. And an equal number died in the bombings of Japan. What could possibly justify such carnage? Winning the war against Fascism? Yes, we "won". But what did we win? Was it a new world? Had we done away with Fascism in the world, with racism, with militarism, with hunger and disease? Despite the noble words of the United Nations charter about ending "the scourge of war" - had we done away with war?

As horrifying as the loss of life was, the acceptance of justifications for the killing of innocent people continued after World War II. The United States bombed Korea, with at least a million civilian deaths, and then Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, with another million or two million lives taken. "Communism" was the justification. But what did those millions of victims know of "communism" or "capitalism" or any of the abstractions which cover up mass murder?

We have had enough experience, with the Nuremberg trials of the Nazi leaders, with the bombings carried out by the Allies, with the torture stories coming out of Iraq, to know that ordinary people with ordinary consciences will allow their instincts for decency to be overcome by the compulsion to obey authority. It is time therefore, to educate the coming generation in disobedience to authority, to help them understand that institutions like governments and corporations are cold to anything but self-interest, that the interests of powerful entities run counter to the interests of most people.

This clash of interest between governments and citizens is camouflaged by phrases that pretend that everyone in the nation has a common interest, and so wars are waged and bombs dropped for "national security", "national defense", "and national interest".

Patriotism is defined as obedience to government, obscuring the difference between the government and the people. Thus, soldiers are led to believe that "we are fighting for our country" when in fact they are fighting for the government - an artificial entity different from the people of the country - and indeed are following policies dangerous to its own people.

My own reflections on my experiences as a bombardier, and my research on the wars of the United States have led me to certain conclusions about war and the dropping of bombs that accompany modern warfare.

One: The means of waging war (demolition bombs, cluster bombs, white phosphorus, nuclear weapons, napalm) have become so horrendous in their effects on human beings that no political end-- however laudable, the existence of no enemy -- however vicious, can justify war.

Two: The horrors of the means are certain, the achievement of the ends always uncertain.

Three: When you bomb a country ruled by a tyrant, you kill the victims of the tyrant.

Four: War poisons the soul of everyone who engages in it, so that the most ordinary of people become capable of terrible acts.

Five:Since the ratio of civilian deaths to military deaths in war has risen sharply with each subsequent war of the past century (10% civilian deaths in World War I,50% in World War II, 70% in Vietnam, 80-90% in Afghanistan and Iraq) and since a significant percentage of these civilians are children, then war is inevitably a war against children.

Six: We cannot claim that there is a moral distinction between a government which bombs and kills innocent people and a terrorist organization which does the same. The argument is made that deaths in the first case are accidental, while in the second case they are deliberate. However, it does not matter that the pilot dropping the bombs does not "intend" to kill innocent people -- that he does so is inevitable, for it is the nature of bombing to be indiscriminate. Even if the bombing equipment is so sophisticated that the pilot can target a house, a vehicle, there is never certainty about who is in the house or who is in the vehicle.

Seven: War, and the bombing that accompanies war, are the ultimate terrorism, for governments can command means of destruction on a far greater scale than any terrorist group.

These considerations lead me to conclude that if we care about human life, about justice, about the equal right of all children to exist, we must, in defiance of whatever we are told by those in authority, pledge ourselves to oppose all wars.

If the drawings of elin o'Hara slavick and the words that accompany them cause us to think about war, perhaps in ways we never did before, they will have made a powerful contribution towards a peaceful world.

Howard Zinn's most recent book is A Power Government's Cannot Suppress.


elin o'Hara slavick

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Lebanon, The Bombing of Beirut
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Tommie Horton, UNC Groundskeeper
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Poor Donkey
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Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies

slavick has been at UNC since 1994. Upon her arrival she began building the now thriving photography lab. Slavick teaches Conceptual and Experimental Photography, Collaborative Visual Projects, Drawing, Mixed Media and Body Imaging. Slavick received her MFA in Photography from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1992 and her BA in poetry, photography and art history from Sarah Lawrence College in 1988. Having grown up with a radical Catholic activist father who gave her a camera when she was eight years old and a German mother, Slavick traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States several times as a child - visiting churches, museums, typical tourist destinations, alternative historical sites, and family. Perhaps these trips began her visual explorations and manifestations of the relationship between the individual and the world.

slavick's mixed-media work has included photography, drawing, painting, site-specific installation, public projects, projections, performance, collaboration, documentary images, collage, embroidery, posters, found objects, interactive sites, 'zines and sculpture. slavick has explored feminism, body politics, the personal as political, familial relations, memory, alternative histories, memorials, the global economy, contemporary workers, travel/tourist photography, how the media (mis)represents the world, the U.S. military and exported violence and how art can transform society through her art projects, teaching and activism.

slavick has exhibited her work in Hong Kong, Canada, France, Italy, Scotland, Cuba, The Netherlands and across the United States. slavick co-founded the Progressive Faculty Network on campus and helps to organize teach-ins on current local and global issues. Her work has been published in the Progressive, Adbusters and Southern Exposure magazines, the Southern Atlantic Quarterly and Art Papers. Her photographs of Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, NC can be found in anthropologist Catherine Lutz's book Homefront: a Military City and the American 20th Century (Beacon Press, 2001).



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Last modified 09/07/2007 07:36am.


elin o'Hara slavick stands outside her studio on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. The wall is covered with images she has clipped for the last 15 years.
Photo by Derek Anderson

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Melody for Peace

This is not the kind of music I like. It is not evil music; it is not salacious. But I find it boring. Still, attempts of this kind should not be overlooked regardless of differences in taste.

'A Melody for Peace'
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Iran, Chris de Burgh to sing for peace

12 Nov 2007

Iran's Arian music band has collaborated with the celebrated Irish musician and singer Chris De Burgh to sing 'A Melody for Peace'.

The song, which calls for love, shows the peace-loving Iranian spirit to the people of the world.

This is the first time that a famous foreign artist has taken part in a joint music production with an Iranian band. 'A Melody for Peace' could be a great start for Iran's international musical collaborations.

Chris De Burgh is a world-famous Irish musician who was selected as a UN Ambassador to promote food campaign initiatives against malnutrition.

'A Melody for Peace', which is passing its final production stage, will be included in Arian Band's forthcoming album.

Arian is one of the most popular bands in Iran and has performed numerous successful concerts around the globe.

The band is slated to perform 'A Melody for Peace in a concert on December 22nd, 2007 in Tehran.

March 17, 2004

Why is he so popular in Iran?!

Chris De Burgh, the British pop singer, has recently released his last album called "The Road To Freedom." The album will be available in Canada on April 19, 2004. A pure Chris De Burgh. As one of the most popular western pop singers in Iran, many Iranians have been following his music for years. If we compare this with their world-wide popularity, then with no doubt, Christopher J. Davison alias Chris de Burgh (CdeB) is the number one. Why is he so popular in Iran? He, himself, is very surprised about the CdeB phenomenon in Iran. I try to find an answer to this question.

Suggested answer: CdeB has been strongly in touch with Iranians and that is why Iranians appreciate him. I list some evidence which I think would be interesting for the reader:

He has never lost an opportunity to make a connection with his fans in Iran and to express his dream of having a concert in Iran:

-I know that this is a country that I am popular in and I was speaking to some Iranian people recently about my desire to go back there and they gave me the feeling that it may not be possible at the moment. Certainly not to go there and play and sing. But it’s certainly a dream I will like to continue with, and I would love to do it some day.

-I would of course very very strongly wish to visit Iran and perform there, even a solo concert I would be very happy to do that.

-I'd like to stress how excited I am to receive all those messages from my fans in Iran. … I would love to do concerts in Iran. I know there are big changes going on in that country, and I certainly would like to feel that I would be welcome in Iran by so many fans who have been in touch and so many people who want to hear me what I do. I think if the authorities would relax a little bit and let people like me in.

-I had no idea that my lyrics have been translated into Farsi. ... I have been particularly impressed by the number of people who log on my website from Iran. And trust me when I say that I cannot wait to go there and sing on probably a solo tour to start with. It is difficult, but I want to say a very personal thank you to all my supporters from Iran.

On Shirin Ebadi’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize:

-When I read the news, I was absolutely delighted for a number of reasons that I have mentioned in the past like my interest in Iran and the continuing struggle there to change things. And I was absolutely thrilled and delighted when I heard about this major, major victory. Particularly when it's on a world stage like the Nobel Peace Prize. So again many congratulations for that! Because I am sure, all Iranian people share in her joy and her belief that things can change, if you work hard enough, if you sacrifice yourself and if you take risks.

A special message from Chris de Burgh on the earthquake in Bam:

-I am sending my sincere condolences, thoughts and sympathy to all my friends and fans in Iran who have suffered during the recent earthquake in Bam-Kerman. My thoughts are with you.

However, his reminding of his interests in Iran and his Iranian fans has nothing to do with his popularity for a couple of reasons:

(1) It is not more than a few years that CdeB has realized about his surprising popularity in Iran. His popularity in Iran is almost 20 years old. He was a beloved pop singer in Iran when he would never talk about his Iranian fans.

(2) CdeB has sung only one song which has something to do with Iran: "Eastern Wind." Surprisingly, this song, and in fact the whole album (album is called "Eastern Wind" too), is one his least popular songs in Iran.

-I was writing this from the point of view of a farmer in the Midwest of America, who doesn't understand too much of what's going on. But he puts his own feeling to it and his own thoughts and he doesn’t like what's happening [in particular, 1979 revolution in Iran]. And he knows that this is something that should it come anywhere closer to him like a bad storm to a farmer, he will have to react and protect himself and his family and indeed his country from further threat.

I believe, however, the following reasons, altogether, made him a big shot in Iran:

(1) In the early 90’s in Iran, right at the time when CdeB was blooming, the pop music was totally banned. Note that it was only in the late 90’s when specific forms of traditional music could be produced in Iran. Iranian pop-music-in-exile had not been entirely formed. So, western music became the first musical resource for Iranian youth. Western pop music was the closest category to the Iranian musical habits (in compare with Rock, Jazz, etc.). For the same reason the only Rock album of CdeB—"This Way Up"—did not meet his Iranian fans’ expectations.

(2) The English that CdeB sings is easy for his Iranian fans to understand. His songs are more audible in the sense that an Iranian can catch most of the words when he sings. The lyrics usually do not contain high level English vocabulary such that an Iranian high school graduate can understand the most of it.

(3) CdeB used to dress the way that Iranians call it normal. He neither has a strange hair style nor wears make up. He is not accompanied by a bunch of sexy girls on the stage. He does not make the so-called dandy gestures there (just compare him with other singers of his era—which is not over yet). This makes him fit in our cultural definition of a "gentleman."

(4) Iranian culture is sexually shy. Songs about earthy loves are not that welcome in this culture. And, most of CdeB’s love songs can be easily interpreted as holy love songs. The fact that CdeB has not made many video clips for his songs has intensified this picture of him.

(5) While this culture seeks for spiritual qualities of this singer, his fate-based songs such as "Spaceman," "The Risen Lord," "Saint Peter's Gate" and etc. fit well even in the Islamic system of beliefs. This search for spiritual qualities in a person, has sometimes made the culture to see the person as they like ad not as he/she is. In Iran and only in Iran, there has been this rumor that CdeB has been a priest (or his mother wanted him to be a priest) but he has understood that his songs has more influence than his preaching. Another interesting fact is that many of his Iranian fans have asked him why he has never sung a song for his mother and her true love. We like him to be one of us, so we see him that way.

(6) Last but not least, who can ignore the fact that for some strange reason, he has always had our lullabies. When our soldiers were leaving for the battle field he had "Borderline"; when they were coming back he had "Last Night"; when their bodies were coming back he had "The Simple Truth"; and you name it.

Walking past the border guards,
Reaching for her hand,
Showing no emotion,
I want to break into a run,
But these are only boys, and I will never know,
How men can see the wisdom in a war...

Babak Farzad [info|posts]

Saturday November 24, 2007 - 08:46am (EST)

This was cut and pasted from:
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Chris de Burgh concert gets Iranian seal of approval

TEHRAN - Iranian authorities have approved a plan for concerts by an Iranian pop group and singer Chris de Burgh in Tehran, the group's manager said today.

The concerts, set for the middle of next year, would be the first time since the 1979 revolution that an Iranian pop band had played alongside a Western singer inside the Islamic Republic, Arian's manager Mohsen Rajabpour said.

Rajabpour, director of Taraneh Sharghi music company, said Arian and de Burgh had recorded a song called "A Melody for Peace" which he said was intended "to reflect the peace-seeking spirit of the Iranian people to the world."

"We are trying to organize the concerts, scheduled for June and July," he told Reuters, confirming a report carried by Iran's Fars New Agency.

The plan is to hold the concert at a 12,000-seat stadium complex in Tehran. De Burgh is expected to visit Iran early next year as a tourist for discussions on the project.

De Burgh, born of British parents and brought up in Ireland, is popular in Iran and his website has several entries from Iranian fans.

"Iran is definitely one of those countries I would love to visit. Not only for historical reasons but also for the fact that I believe that music is an international language and deserves to be heard all over the world," de Burgh replied to one Iranian in a message posted in 2002.

Western pop songs with lyrics are banned by Iran's authorities although state radio sometimes plays instrumental versions. Iranian pop bands say their lyrics and tunes are vetted before they can be officially sold in Iran.

Pirate versions of the latest Western albums or songs by underground Iranian groups are available on the black market.

"The head of the music centre of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has officially announced that there is no problem with holding a joint performance," Rajabpour said when asked whether his plan had been approved.

Iranian pop groups say plans to hold concerts have to go through a tortuous process to obtain permission. Lyrics are studied to ensure they do not contradict Islamic values and even the music style, such as the use of guitar feedback, prompt disapproval for having too much Western influence, they say.

Iran is locked in a standoff with the West over its nuclear ambitions which Western nations fear are aimed at building bombs. Tehran insists its intentions are entirely peaceful.

Reuters 2007


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Led Zeppelin

I was never a fan of heavy metal, but the article below leads one to suspect that there may be something there worth listening to, even something relevant to the search for peace through understanding. Lots of times listening to another culture seems like listening to a bunch of noise, and the dissonance with what is familiar can lead us to jump to wrong conclusions. We don't really know what the other is thinking, but it seems suspicious. This happens even when one is trying to be open-minded and nonjudgmental.

Led Zeppelin, a force for peace

Next week's reunion of Led Zeppelin is among the most anticipated in rock history. And with good reason. In the 1970s, the British band was mesmerizing.

But beyond unforgettable songs and legendary live shows, Led Zeppelin broadcast a powerful message to fans who tuned in to the right frequency. Bring the soul of the West and Islam together, Led Zeppelin told us, and you can produce a musical force powerful enough to break through the barricade dividing the two civilizations. In its way, this message is far more subversive than the Satanic themes the band was accused of "backmasking" into "Stairway to Heaven."

One of us - Salman Ahmed - is a Pakistani who was born in Lahore and spent his adolescence in Upstate New York. Led Zeppelin was a sonic voyage home for Salman. When he first saw the band at Madison Square Garden during its US tour in 1977, it was a spiritual awakening. There was something deeply familiar in the music. Once he returned home for medical school he realized that the band had channeled the Sufi music of South Asia through the blues to create rock 'n' roll.

Soon enough, Salman traded in his stethoscope for an electric guitar. If Led Zeppelin frontmen Jimmy Page and Robert Plant immersed themselves in the blues, Salman studied with the Pakistani musical legend Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who coming from the opposite trajectory offered a similar message of harmony and brotherhood.

The other one of us - Mark LeVine - is a New Yorker born in New Jersey. For him, hearing Led Zeppelin as a young child initiated a lifelong love affair with the music and cultures of the Muslim world. Most rock legends mined the blues. But the bends in Page's guitar solos and Plant's vocal melodies stretched beyond the "blue" of such greats as Johnny Copeland and Dr. John (with whom Mark was fortunate to perform as a young guitarist). In Led Zeppelin's music, there were hints of the Arabic ruba', or quarter tone, and Persian koron, or neutral third.

Led Zeppelin's self-described "tight but loose" musical philosophy had an impact on both of us. In blues, rock, and jazz, the function of the drummer and bassist is mainly to lay down a tight groove over which the frontmen can let loose. Rarely does the rhythm section have the space to take the music to a higher dimension.

But Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham did just that. For Salman, the interplay between all four musicians linked the band to the great chain of improvisers inspired by Sufism, an Islamic mystic tradition. Salman has a special interest in that tradition; his band's music is often classified as "Sufi rock."

It was this pedigree that separated Led Zeppelin from the rest of the rock 'n' roll universe, reminding those with the right ears of a time when the distinctions between East and West, Islam and Europe, were still fuzzy - often productively so. It's no wonder the band was signed by a Turkish music impresario, Ahmet Ertegun, in whose honor they are reuniting once more. The soaring minor and major scales that Plant and Page embellish in songs such as "Kashmir," "Going to California," "Four Sticks," and "Friends in the Light" are, to our ears, drawn from traditional vocalizations of qawwali, a Pakistani form of Sufi devotional music.

Led Zeppelin's ability to move between Western and Muslim cultures was evident when Page and Plant went to Morocco to record songs for their 1994 "No Quarter" album and DVD. Finding musicians performing in a market in Marrakesh, Page and Plant were able to bond with them musically - and with an immediacy that produced some of the albums most alluring tracks, such as "Yallah" and "City Don't Cry."

Today's Muslim rock and heavy metal artists, in turn, have been powerfully influenced by Led Zeppelin. The band's music echoes their own history and culture, helping them create new hybrids of rock, metal, and Islam, and through it, some of the world's lushest, and most innovative and powerful rock 'n' roll.

At its core, even the most extreme Muslim heavy metal carries a message of peace and harmony. This is an important counterweight to the sounds of clashing civilizations and endless jihads that assault the world's ears today.

It's about time the world starts listening; the next Led Zeppelin is as likely to come from Casablanca, Cairo, or Karachi as it is from London or New York.



Led Zeppelin: Crossing cultures

Zeppelin legends: Guitarist Jimmy Page, right, with Robert Plant [EPA]

Since their formation from the remnants of the British band The Yardbirds in 1968, Led Zeppelin have consistently been in the vanguard of amalgamating musical themes from around the world.

In Physical Graffiti, for example, guitarist Jimmy Page, drummer John Bonham, vocalist Robert Plant and bassist John Paul Jones incorporated Middle Eastern musical themes into their hard rock riffs, unleashing a torrent of east-meets-west influences in the years to come.

Ahead of Led Zeppelin's reunion in London on December 10, two musicians - Salman Ahmed and Mark Levine, from Pakistan and the United States respectively - offer their interpretations of how successful the band has been in using music to bridge the cultural divide.

Salman Ahmed: founder and lead guitarist of Pakistani rock band Junoon

By almost any measure, the December 10 reunion of Led Zeppelin is among the most anticipated in rock history. And with good reason. Led Zeppelin was the most powerful and mesmerising rock group of all time.

But beyond unforgettable songs and legendary live shows, Led Zeppelin broadcast a powerful message to fans who were tuned in to their music at a particular frequency.

It was far more subversive than the satanic messages the band was accused of "back-masking" into Stairway to Heaven.

Their message was to bring the soul of the West and Islam together and produce a musical force powerful enough to break through the barricades dividing the two civilisations.

From opposite sides of the globe, we each heard this message, and it profoundly shaped our lives.

For a Pakistani born in Lahore who spent his adolescence in upstate New York, Led Zeppelin were a sonic voyage home, and not merely through their iconic song Kashmir.

Spiritual awakening

I saw the band at Madison Square Garden during their last US tour in 1977 and it was a spiritual awakening. There was something deeply familiar in the music, but I couldn't place it until I returned to Pakistan for medical school.

It was then that I realised music - in good measure, their music - had led me home.

Zeppelin channelled the Sufi music of South Asia through the blues to create rock 'n' roll at once more spiritual and more hedonistic than any before or since.

Soon enough I traded in my stethoscope for an electric guitar, which seemed the better instrument to help heal my deeply wounded society.

Where Page and Plant had immersed themselves in the blues, I studied with the qawwali legend Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who offered a similar message of harmony and brotherhood.

With such inspiration I formed Junoon, which became the biggest rock band in Asia.

Since then I have regularly found myself following in Zeppelin's footsteps. The band's music validated the belief of another hero of mine, the great Sufi Ibn al-Arabi, who said that only through a multitude of sources can universal harmony be achieved.

Salman Ahmed is the founder and lead guitarist for the multi-platinum Pakistani rock band Junoon and a UN Goodwill Ambassador. His most recent performance was at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway. Before that, he was an artist-in-residence at Queens College in New York City. www.junoon.com

Mark Levine: professional musician and professor of Middle Eastern history

For a New Yorker born in New Jersey, hearing Led Zeppelin as a young child initiated a life-long love affair with the music and cultures of the Muslim world.

Most rock legends mined the blues, but the bends in Jimmy Page's guitar solos and Robert Plant's vocal melodies stretched beyond the "blue" notes I heard nightly while performing as a young sideman with artists like Johnny Copeland and Dr John.

Plant, right, jams with US guitarist Nile
Rodgers, left, and Turkish-born Ertegun [EPA]
As I studied Arabic music I realised that the band had dug deep beneath the Mississippi Delta to the roots of the blues found in the chants and prayers of Muslim Africans brought to America as slaves.

There were hints of the Arabic ruba' (quarter tone) and Persian koron (neutral third) which, like the unsettling dissonance of so many Zeppelin songs, resolves itself into the most harmonious interval in Western music, the perfect fifth.

With Led Zeppelin as my example, my goal as a musician and a scholar became creating conversations between the intellectual and artistic production of the West and the Muslim world.

During the day this might mean exploring the relationship between Muslim modernists and European existentialists, or Jewish and Palestinian port workers in late Ottoman Jaffa and Tel Aviv.

After the sun set, it involved performing with Iranian metal guitar virtuoso Farzad Golpayegani at the Rock for Peace Festival in Istanbul, or bringing together Moroccan gnawa artist Hassan Hakmoun and the French Jewish Gypsy group Les Yeux Noirs on Latin rock sensation Ozomatli's Grammy-winning album Street Signs.

With either a pen or a guitar, it's been the same Zeppelin-inspired "culture-jamming" that led Salman to create a new genre of pop music, "Sufi rock".

Musical philosophy

Led Zeppelin's self-described "tight but loose" musical philosophy had a special impact on us. In blues, rock, and jazz, the drummer and bassist primarily lay down a tight groove over which the front men can let loose.

Rarely does the rhythm section have the space to take the music to a higher dimension.

But Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham did just that. The interplay between all four musicians linked Zeppelin to the great chain of Sufi inspired improvisers, from the Gnawa slaves of the Maghreb in North Africa to the qawwali of North India.

It was this pedigree that separated Led Zeppelin from the rest of the rock 'n' roll universe, reminding those with the right ears of a time when the distinctions between East and West, Islam and Europe, were still fuzzy.

It's no wonder the band was signed by Turkish music impresario and Atlantic Records founder, Ahmet Ertegun.

Ertegun passed away in 2006 and it is to honour him that Led Zeppelin reunites as a band next week.

Muslim rock and metal artists today have been powerfully influenced by Led Zeppelin. The band's music echoes their own history and culture, helping them create new hybrids of rock, metal and Islam, and through it, some of the world's lushest, and most innovative and powerful rock 'n' roll.

At its core, even the most extreme Muslim heavy metal carries a message of peace and harmony - an important counterweight to the sounds of clashing civilisations and endless jihads that assault the world's ears today.

It's about time the world started listening. The next Led Zeppelin could as likely come from Casablanca, Cairo or Karachi as from London or New York.

Mark Levine is a professional musician and professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of California, Irvine. He is author of half a dozen books, including Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Religion and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam (forthcoming, Random House/Verso, companion CD to be released by EMI Records). www.culturejamming.org


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