Moroccan heavy metal lives on after Satanism trial

Sat Feb 23, 2008 5:26pm EST
 
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By Tom Pfeiffer

SIDI KACEM, Morocco (Reuters) - Hundreds of Moroccan heavy metal fans met on Saturday for their biggest festival in the north African country since a group of hard rock enthusiasts was jailed five years ago for "Satanism."

Braving the opprobrium of Islamists and heavy rain, young men in black jeans and jackets, goatee beards and dreadlocks trudged to a cavernous concert hall in Sidi Kacem, a market town in a farming region of northern Morocco.

As the first group Hammerhead began tuning up, a small Fiat drew up outside the hall and two police officers stepped out.

"It's OK," said organizer Yassine Ould Abbou, 22. "They're just here to check the security arrangements."

A clang of grinding guitar feedback signaled the start of the concert and prompted startled glances from veiled women and men on mopeds passing by.

"Most people in this town have never seen an electric guitar," said Yassine. "We had 500 people at our last concert in 2005 and this time we're expecting about 1,000."

The concert began with only a few dozen spectators leaping and whistling in the hall, but organizers said attendance peaked at between 600 and 700.

"Going to war, give 'em hell, there's no escape, that's for sure," shrieked student Hamza, Hammerhead's 21-year-old singer.   Continued...

 
<p>A supporter dances during the Sidi Rock Festival in Sidi Kacem, near Meknes, February 23, 2008. Hundreds of Moroccan heavy metal fans met on Saturday for their biggest festival in the north African country since a group of hard rock enthusiasts was jailed five years ago for "Satanism". REUTERS/Rafael Marchante</p>