Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Culture clash in Rabat 

A planned concert appearance by Sir Elton John is causing trouble in Morocco, but not because people don't like his music. Some in the country -- one of the more liberal in the Muslim world -- do not care for his sexual orientation, and Islamists do not want him to appear at all, reports AP:
A concert by Elton John has tested the limits of Morocco's drive for modernity, probing this Muslim nation's complex and ambiguous attitudes toward homosexuality like rarely before.

Islamists in the North African kingdom were outraged by the gay pop star's visit, while the royal palace, government and his many fans backed his appearance Wednesday night.
Setting aside for the moment that I was under the misapprehension that John was bisexual, he has enjoyed a career spanning four decades, and hardly needs to be putting a bullseye on his head at this point. One has to admire his courage to go and perform where he has many fans, but a few potentially violent enemies.

I have always been partial to John's earlier music -- in the 1970s, he made some good Top 40 rock.

In a certain sense, John and pop culture stars like him are important characters in the struggle for modernity in the Muslim world. There is a simultaneous attraction to his music and a revulsion to his declared lifestyle. I wonder what goes on in Sir Elton's mind when he returns to his native Britain, happy that his Moroccan concert went off without incident, only to read in the London papers about the reluctance of British officials to enforce their laws in Muslim neighborhoods.


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