Posts Tagged ‘Yemen’

Awlaki’s other admirer: MC Abu Nurah

May 10, 2010 Leave a comment

As the Western newsmedia went back into panic mode last week after the failed terrorist attack in Times Square, we learned very quickly that the main suspect, Faisal Shahzad, was not only linked to the Pakistani Taliban and other Al Qaeda affiliates, but was yet another follower of the prolific Yemeni-American Islamist cleric  Anwar Al Awlaki. Awlaki was a source of inspiration, if not direct encouragement, for the so-called “underwear bomber” from Christmas, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, as well as the army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood in November, Nidal Malik Hasan. Even before Mr. Shahzad parked the Pathfinder in Times Square, President Obama had  signed a secret order authorizing the killing of Awlaki, making him Global Terrorist #1.

However, there are many who would argue that the targeting of Imam Awlaki is little more than the latest attempt by the US government to create a public enemy in order to justify increased military action against countries like Yemen, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.  One such skeptic whose own profile resembles that of the “well-educated, well-heeled”  Abdulmutallab and Shahzad, is American-born, Harvard-educated rapper Abu Nurah. His defense of Imam Awlaki, though it may land him on the Terrorist Expatriation List, calls neither for violence nor terror, but rather a transition from blind patriotism to informed activism, which he captures in the title of his new album: “Don’t Be A Citizen”.

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‘No Terrorism Please’: Yemeni Hip Hop Refrain

January 11, 2010 1 comment

From the Christian Science Monitor (article by Laura Kasinof):

Sanaa, Yemen

Turbaned men dancing with daggers and rappers donning New York Yankees caps may not seem to have anything in common, but in Yemen this combination sent a packed theater of more than 500 Yemeni youth into a boisterous frenzy.

On Nov. 17, a sold-out show at the Yemeni Culture House in the nation’s capital, Sanaa, fused elements of hip-hop culture such as break dancing with traditional Yemeni music, and doubled as a campaign to promote peace and national unity in this desperately poor country that is being torn apart by different domestic insurgencies – as well as touted as a new base for Al Qaeda.

In Yemen’s staunchly traditional society, the main activities for young people are chewing khat, a mild narcotic, or going to mosques. Events like last week’s show hope to promote hip-hop culture as a healthy alternative and keep youths from being swept up into extremist ideas, say event organizers.

“[In Yemen] you have people who are trying to gain support among the youth for every sort of cause: Al Qaeda, Salafis.… We have to win the hearts and minds of the kids,” said one of the event organizers who wishes to remain anonymous because of his close ties with the Yemeni government.

“Yemen is hungry for hip-hop. When I first came here in 2003 you couldn’t find a rapper or a break dancer,” said Hagage Masaed, an American of Yemeni descent and self-described “Snoop Dogg” of Yemen who has been a centerpiece of hip-hop’s growth in the country.

“All the problems youth are facing in Yemen – there’s no work – this a way for them to release. It’s an outlet,” he said before the start of the show.

Indeed, when Mr. Masaed came onstage rapping, with lyrics such as “one Yemen united” and “no terrorism please,” the crowd went wild.

“I hope in the future hip-hop grows more in Yemen,” said Yunis Shuilah, a rapper who likes to go by the nickname “Pro Boy,” after the show. “The music and the dance are the best for the guys. We are free when we do hip-hop.”

Photo: Paul Stephens