In the wake of the terrible events of 9/11, anger and suspicion about Islam and its teachings spread throughout the United States. For a few Americans, these events led to an awakening to the rich traditions of this major world religion. Curiosity turned to admiration of a faith that in its core offers peace and solace. How would these converts adjust to life as strangers in their own hometowns?
In 2014, in a classroom in rural Indonesia, three schoolgirls fell in love with metal. During an extra-curricular arts programme at their school in Garut, West Java, Firdda Marsya Kurnia (vocals and guitar), Widi Rahmawati (bass), and Euis Siti Aisyah (drums), then aged 14, were introduced to metal by their school guidance counsellor, Ahba Erza.
Immediately, the teenagers were drawn to the “unique and beautiful” lyricism of System Of A Down, and “rebellious” spirit of bands such as Rage Against The Machine, Lamb Of God and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Before long, they had formed Voice Of Baceprot, (the word ‘Baceprot’ means ‘loud’ in Sundanese) and were making their own incendiary racket. Their 2018 single, School Revolution, is a fiery blend of elastic bass and furious RATM-indebted thrash.
Emerging as an all-female, Muslim metal band in a conservative community in West Java has posed its own challenges however. The girls have received death threats, while Ahba, who is now their manager, has received calls pressuring him to break up the band. The trio spoke to Metal Hammer about overcoming these challenges and demolishing cultural and gender norms.
Marsya[lead guitar / vocals]: “Every year the metal scene in Indonesia keeps on developing and growing. There’s a bunch of bands all genders and ages, a lot of Indonesians are familiar with metal music and there are a lot of local metal bands in Indonesia.
Euis [drummer]: “There are women that play rock and metal. It’s there, the amount is relative, but there are more and more women playing in Indonesia.”
Can you remember your first gig?
“The first performance was a school event, a farewell concert and it was the first time our parents saw us perform. They school we went to was a pretty religious Islamic school, when we performed, everyone was pretty shocked.”
Shocked in what sense?
Marsya: “[Our parents] didn’t explicitly show their support or forbid us from playing music. Deep down, we knew that they were actually proud of us. Perhaps a little bit worried. They did prohibit us from playing music after [our first show], but we carried on regardless and didn’t think too much of it. [The band practised in secret for a year after their first gig following reservations from their parents.] We never thought about packing it in or taking a step back. As time went by, we realised that the lack of support from our parents and community played a huge role in fortifying our mental strength, and the resolve that we have in proving that our music does not negatively affect our morals.”
You have faced challenges in your own country, and even death threats for playing metal. How did you deal with that?
“They were just comments made on social media. We were a bit scared at first, but we just put our heads down and focused back on our music. As the cliché goes, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. We get a lot of curse words and people saying you should stop playing. They want us to stop playing music. For the most part, people are saying that stuff because we’re women, but we’re not scared to say what’s on our mind. A lot of people don’t like that. If we were men maybe we wouldn’t get such a hard time. Music gives us such a great joy that’s why we want to continue to play. So we are focusing on our music and screw the others!”
What is your single School Revolution about?
“When students start to feel lost and so far detached from their hopes and dreams for the sake of following rigid school rules, we believe that it is simply another form of subjection. This is based on our own experience; from what we felt, the discussions that we had with Abah, and what we’ve read from many books. School was a big part of our lives at that time. It was the place where most teenagers spend their adolescence. Schools should be a just and fair space that is able to accommodate the hopes and dreams of its students.”
What are other themes and messages in your music?
Widi [bassist]: “The main message is about freedom. Independence as a woman, as a human being, and we write a lot about human values and humanity as well. What we’re trying to do is continue traditions, speak our mind and share our music with other people.”
Twitter tirade: The former GOP senatorial candidate took to Twitter to attack author Viet Thanh Nguyen after her loss to Democratic Senator Chris Coons during the Senate election in Delaware on Tuesday.
Witzke began her attack after Nguyen tagged her in a tweet showing Coons receiving a total vote count of 290,996 (59.5%), while the Republican candidate received 185,442 (37.9%).
Nguyen also added a link to Witzke’s previous tweet where she urged for Western Europe to begin the mass deportation of Muslims in the region.
“It would be a shame if President Trump revoked your refugee status and sent you back to the third world where you belong,” Witzke said in her response to Nguyen.
Witzke assumed Nguyen was not a legal voter in her follow-up response, and doubled down on her remarks, calling him an “ungrateful refugee.”
The former GOP candidate then included the Democratic Party into their conversation and accused them of voter fraud.
“I don’t play the grateful refugee,” Nguyen said in his post. “That’s just a way of being silenced and being patted on the head. We can be grateful for the opportunities we’ve gotten in this country while recognizing its racist and white supremacist origins and reality.”
“This racism sometimes benefits those of us who are Vietnamese or Asian or refugees or immigrants, and this racism sometimes targets us. That’s how racism works. It makes you afraid to be the target so you shut up and hope you just reap some of the benefits. That’s what people like Lauren Witzke want. Compliant minorities who know their place.”
Witzke later blocked Nguyen on Twitter on Thursday night.
The Salam Stars hear what some people say when they’re on the basketball court, but that hasn’t stopped them from playing the game they love. WNBA legend Sue Bird heard their story and surprised them at practice. Watch the new episode of “B/Real.” From B/Real x State Farm