It’s a well-known fact that music is often used towards a political end. Contemporary genres like rap and rock are well known for this, especially in the United States and Europe. However, what you might not realize is just how much this music has had an effect in the areas of the Middle East. Recently the group Junoon released an album by the name of “Rock ‘n’ roll Jihad.” I talked to Belle Tuten, professor of history, to get a perspective on music emerging in a less than welcoming culture.
Is it common to see these sorts of groups pop up? Is Junoon more the exception or the rule?
Music is a way to express political ideas. Songs are very common. Rap is actually very common, especially in North Africa. It’s interesting that they’re taking a western art form and applying it to their culture.
What is the backdrop for this sort of group? What is the history between Eastern and Western culture that would lead to something like this?
From the 1920s through the 1960s, European colonies broke away to form their own destinies. These are places of profound western influence but have been ambivalent regarding resources and education. There are issues of dealing with a Western cultural dominance with a desire to maintain their own traditions.
In regards to the name of Junoon’s latest album,“Rock ‘n’ roll Jihad,” do you think that will have an impact on their sales? What is the meaning of the word “Jihad”?
Jihad literally means to strive or to struggle. There are all sorts of ways it’s used. Armed jihad is what westerners go to, but that’s not necessarily what others would see. They are running a risk with the name, though. Some people will hear it an immediately see the Twin Towers falling. At the same time, there are always those who will buy the album just for the controversial connotations, regardless of the word’s meaning.
-Dan Endres ’13, Juniata online journalist