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Anti-Islam lyrics no barrier to Norway music prize

9 January 2012 General 30 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

A black metal band nominated for Norway’s top music prize has rejected claims that lyrics on its latest album go too far in their criticism of Islam.

Taake’s nomination for the Spellemann Prize in the Best Metal Album category has sparked a strong reaction from listeners who find some of the band’s lyrics objectionable, newspaper Aftenposten reports.

In the song Orkan (‘Hurricane’) on its latest album, Noregs Vaapen, the band sings “To hell with Muhammad and the Mohammedans” and their “unforgivable customs”. It ends with the line: “Norway will soon awaken”.

Marte Thorsby, chairman of the prize committee’s board, denied any assertion that the jury must not have listened to the album properly before announcing the nomination.

“We enjoy full freedom of expression in Norway and a Spellemann jury is not going to censor content in any way,” she told Aftenposten.

Didrik Søderlind, of the Norwegian Humanist Association, agreed that criticism of religion was fully acceptable and should not be subject to any form of censorship. But he also argued that the song in question went too far.

Søderlind said the lyrics were presumably written prior to last summer’s terror attacks in Norway, “and in the aftermath of July 22nd they’re completely over the edge.”

“I’d imagine Taake aren’t particularly proud of these lyrics after Utøya,” he said, referring to the massacre of 69 young people at a summer camp by anti-Islam extremist Anders Behring Breivik.

In a written response to the newspaper, Taake front-man Ørjan Stedjeberg said his sole intention with the contentious lyrics was to criticize religion.

“Our view, in the name of freedom of expression, is that it is shameful to adhere to Christianity or Islam. Incidentally, Christianity is mentioned in the same lyrics, but that doesn’t seem to have been given any emphasis,” he wrote.

“Taake has never been a political band, and we do not encourage either violence or racism.”

Stedjeberg previously landed himself in hot water in 2007 when he appeared onstage with a swastika painted on his chest in Essen, Germany, where any use of the former Nazi symbol is strictly prohibited.

In a statement released after the incident, Stedjeberg said:

“Taake is not a political Nazi band, etc. We certainly didn’t expect the current threat reactions, as everyone should know by now that our whole concept is built upon provocation and anything evil- and death-related.”

The Spellemann Prize winners will be announced at a ceremony on January 14th.

Note: This article has been updated (6 Jan) to clarify comments made by Didrik Søderlind.

NTB/The Local (news@thelocal.no)

Original post: Anti-Islam lyrics no barrier to Norway music prize

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30 Comments »

  1. I love islamophobiatoday.com, but this is out of line. Art is not the same thing as political speech, and it is extremely easy to remove from context or misunderstand entirely. For example, at face value, the Pink Floyd song “Money” glorifies money and the material possessions it can buy. But it is really deeply critical of our money-obsessed lives. The same goes for “Another Brick in the Wall part 2,” which contains the famous line “We don’t need no education.” Of course, the song is not anti intellectual in truth, it is about the oppressive treatment of students in postwar England. For this reason, we should not be looking for Islamophobia in music or art, but in propaganda and discourse. I love the site, and I love this facebook page and its mission, but I disagree this time. Keep fighting the bigots, but leave art out of it.

  2. Didn’t Norway learn their lesson from the massacre by the racist/bigot Aryan idiot last yr??? Trying to prime & breed more of these morons???

  3. Well, these kinds of bands hate everybody. Norwegian metal is pretty crazy. I’m sure there are plenty of mentions burning Christian churches and stuff on this album too. This isn’t really news, this kind of music has been around for a while.

  4. I listened to Norwegian black metal when I was a pre-teen/early teenager. I understand their disgruntlement with monotheism, but I would say while they attack Islam and Christianity, they leave out Judaism for a reason. It’s the very same reason, especially considering how a bunch of children were recently massacred in Norway, that criticizing Islam in such a way is distasteful. It’s nothing to do with a supremacy or double-standard, but more of what is going on in the world on a massive scale in the countries they have an audience for. Encouraging or fueling hate crimes is distasteful. No one is burning churches in Europe anymore so criticizing Christianity has no repercussions.

  5. Are the lyrics ignorant and silly? Yes. Have metal bands been saying much worse about Christians for decades? Yes. (just off the top of my head: songs called “Christians to the Lions,” “Dechristianize,” etc.). Anyway, yeah metal! m/

  6. Norwegian Black Metal attacks all monotheist religions. You should listen to some of their songs about Christianity. This is a demographic that sings about Vikings and their gods and view Christianity as an invasion on their lands and culture by semitic origins. They are equal opportunity haters. Good metal music though at times!

  7. Free Speech. Deal with it.

  8. However, this is a matter of freedom of speech, no matter how objectionable it may be. If this group wants to show its ignorance, let them. It give us ammo to expose their bigotry. The same goes with the inflammatory cartoons that were published in the Danish newspaper. Where I have problems is the growth of online hate groups who disseminate their hatred on the world wide web. This is where I believe clamping/shutting down sites is unavoidably a necessity. Let the print media remain untouched. People inevitably will get turned off by the bigots and they descend into self-marginalization.

  9. Why is it that whenever there’s an anti-Islam or anti-Muslims issue people would defend those people with “freedom of speech”..but if someone dares to criticize about Judaism or the Jewish people in public then it’s gonna go viral and how everyone would accuse that person of being anti-Semitic. ?

  10. I agree with Stephan and Kerry. Let people vent and/or parody -whatever they choose. More dangerous to bottle it up.

  11. objectionable? hell…thats plain ol’ racist hatemongering!

  12. Don’t look at this for it’s face value. Just because they say this doesn’t mean they are islamophobic or discirminative towards islam. If this is the case, every person who says “god damnit” or “jesus christ” should be punched in the face every time they say it because it is an insult to Jehovah (Christianity’s god) for is using his name in vain. Or, we should burn all american currency then for the phrase “In God We Trust” thats printed and minted onto the coins and bills. Because at face value that is saying we worship money and not any form of religion. Don’t make the last and true form of expression target to islamophobia and all that jazz. Music is too good for that. Don’t slander it for what you think of it first. Just because it’s said does not mean it’s meant. But of course, i’m not an islamist or political analyst so what do i know eh? -__-

  13. Darla, I’m certain one individual wrote those lyrics, not a nation.

  14. Jessica, not everyone.

  15. While I agree that people should have freedom of expression in art, disseminating these kinds of messages to the culture can have harmful effects. I don’t think this should be somehow punished or outlawed, but I do think the musicians should have been more careful to not send out a hateful message.

  16. I’m in agreement with most of the earlier posts on this topic. Black metal has always been vehemently anti-theistic, with a heightened emphasis on Christianity, so this certainly isn’t a new development. They equally despise all organized religion and endorse paganism beliefs. Art shouldn’t be censored. It’s self-expression, regardless of its extremes.

  17. the best part of freedom,, in america or norway or any free country,,is …you can listen or not…no one is forcing anyone to listen…this post is a waste and a better post would be condemning countries that force people to listen to hate messages…like death to israel, death to america, death to the non believers etc etc…

    for those comments by those wondering why judaism comments are attacked…its because the jews have paid a terrible price already…check your history books and leave the jews alone is the message i get from history and why israel was givin land after ww2…the whole world agreed they paid a price higher than any other

  18. better post would be condemning countries like iran for joke trials…

    An American citizen has reportedly been sentenced to death in Iran on charges of spying for the CIA. His family, former colleagues and American officials say the 28-year-old former U.S. Marine Arabic language translator has never served in the CIA and was in Iran to visit his grandmother.

  19. This is a matter of free speech and artistic expression. Haven’t we been told for years that the answer to speech that offends is more speech and not censorship.

  20. RACISM & HATE!!

  21. Douche bags. Nuff said.

  22. My husband says they’re Norwegian Nazis. Great……

  23. Heavy metal music = Devil worshipers. Do you expect them to speak good about Islam? They ain’t even Christians. They are the brothers of the devils.

  24. They have no qualms to put fire in churches – and if moslems would be too “vocal”, they will burn mosque as well. so I advise moslems to be very quiet that those guys dont get angry.

  25. Neo-Nazi black metal bands are bad! I listen to regular Black Metal!

  26. Nordic people have been itching to get their religion back into their own mainstream since the church conquered them. It’s not surprising there would be some that have issues with other religions. It doesn’t make it acceptable, but this is hardly unexpected.

  27. Metal seems to be used for alot of messages of hate, it’s saddening that music is used in this way. I’m not even a huge fan of metal either.

  28. Agree 100% with the previous posts. Let’s distinguish between art and political rhetoric. The latter is more dangerous than the former. I love this site, but you guys seriously missed the mark here. Black metal has a strong focus on pagan empowerment, and as such, they’re very critical of all Abrhamic faiths. Sometimes they have taken it too far. In the 90’s, for example, they were fire bombing churches! But that doesn’t happen nowadays.

    Is this band ignorant? Yes! Islamophobic? Not really…

  29. @David Murray you don’t really believe the Jews have had it worse than all other peoples do you? The idea that one people’s miseries somehow trump all other groups is pretty offensive and actually kind of racist. The Holocaust is not the only genocide in history, nor the worst one, nor were Jews its only victims. Your heart is in the right place but you need to learn some perspective.

  30. Lyrics against Islam and Christianity… Are they pro-Judaism?

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