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Heavy Metal Concert Sparks "Satanic Worship" Investigation in Cairo

Geo·dissonance: the metal movement is proliferating to all corners of the globe. In its relentless display of vitriolic truths and the ugliest questions of existence, we can hear the resounding riffs of heavy metal in the most conservative pockets of society. As your Punjabi, riff-worshiping correspondent, I've created Geodissonance to report the controversy: as metal unveils dissonance in cradles of brutality around the world.

In Cairo, an Egyptian lawyer and Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) member is determined to keep allegedly “satanic” metal underground. After a heavy metal concert at one of the city’s respected cultural centers – the El-Sawy Culture WheelIsmail el-Washahi filed a suit against the venue, accusing it of holding an event where “Satanic rituals were held.” The allegation quickly catapulted into an ongoing police investigation, though the center continues to deny el-Washahi’s claims.

Rather than attribute the symbolism of metal clothing, band logos, and tattoos of concertgoers to subcultural expression, el-Washahi has cited it as proof of Satanic ritualism. However, when asked if any suspicious or unruly behavior occurred that night, a security official replied that only small violations, such as smoking, had taken place. These violations were quickly addressed, and by no means classifiable as “Satanic worship.” Since the start of the investigation last Monday, the official has chosen to remain anonymous, adding that he is not permitted to release further information to the press.

The recent allegations echo a similar, high-profile case that occurred 15 years ago, which resulted in the arrest of 100 metal concertgoers. With the formal mislabeling of heavy metal fans as “Satan worshipers," this crackdown was one of the first seedlings of artistic prejudice towards metalheads in Egypt. Come the late 90s, the phobia of Satanic ritual and practice within Egypt was widespread, and formally handled by the State’s Security Apparatus.

Infuriated by the FJP’s claims – particularly, judgments based solely on concertgoers’ appearances – rock musician and revolutionary activist Nour Ayman Nour responded, “instead of filing complaints against metal bands and El-Sawy Culturewheel, why don't the FJP's lawyers focus on corruption cases that really matter?" In a nation where Islamic and bearded-men were once mistreated due to their physical identity, Nour added that “Ismail El-Weshahi himself could have been the victim of such profiling in the past.” In a perverse form of projection, it is thus possible that el-Weshahi is reenacting the same prejudice to which he was once subjugated. In doing so, he has threatened the coexistence of metal culture in Egyptian society, while rehashing a McCarthyist, national fear of “Satanic worship."

[photo via Noisecreep]

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