Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Young Moroccans

I just had to post this picture (by Jonathan Player for the New York Times) from today's edition of the Gray Lady. It accompanied an article, "Christian Rock for Muslims," by Samuel Loewenburg, on Christian evangelical rock bands' participation in a concert in Morocco.

In what passes for our mainstream media, especially our televisual media, we rarely see images of young Muslims, or Muslims of any age, who look like this. Accoutured in the garb of hiphop and rock-influenced youth culture, with their hair colored and picked ('froed) out, flashing signs... (They remind me of [young] people I see in Jersey City, New York and Chicago, that I've seen in Santo Domingo and Rio de Janeiro and Paris and Toronto.) In fact, we rarely see depictions of the Muslims--the millions of them--who live next door to us.

Some many questions arise as I look at this picture. Who are they? What are their lives like? What are they thinking? What influences are shaping their lives, and how do they articulate these influences, their experiences in the world? How do they see themselves? How do they view and talk about their cultures, their society, their country, the world? What do they see in their future?

The image: I can't stop looking at it.

Here's a link to a really engaging but brief exploration, with great links, of the intersection of pop culture and the Middle East on Bill Sebring's FFactory Arts Site.

Moroccan Youth


  1. John,

    Love, love, love this. I never found a way to put a little vignette into my ME/popcult post, but I was in Fez and Meknes in 2001 and my ex and I were fascinated by how many folks went out for dates on the weekends [in the new cities], window shopping, eating sweets and drinking tea, just walking around--very Western, to my eyes, at least.

    Anyhow, will you contact me with yr. full name and email? I'd like to link to this and identify you, unless you wish to remain anonymous (or semi-anonymous).


  2. John,

    You are so erudite and thoughtful.

    If I had some money, I'd pay you for this post.

  3. Thanks, Treasure! I wrote a response to your most recent post on your blog--Lord knows, my heart is with you AND those children, who thankfully have you for now, but who are being set up for failure by a system that has never given a damn about them and still doesn't. It's tragic. But like I said, they do have you for now. You are making a difference--always remember that! You may never know it, but some of those children you work with will remember Mrs. Treasure down the road and think, you know, that fierce lady actually cared about my ass. And she was probably one of the only ones....

  4. I love this photo, too. I'm not sure what i is. Are they familiar or do I wish I knew them? I'm not their age, but when I look at the photo I feel like I am. I know what you're saying about the fact that we never see young Muslim people who look like this, but I don't know if that's what I like about this photo. Part of it, I think, is that I think I'll like the music they've come to hear and I want to hear it. More on this later.

  5. Mendi, I hear you. I'm not sure I'd like the music they're hearing at that concert, at least the Christian rock version--but the Rai and other kinds of music, the unrighteous rock and hiphop and whatever else would tickle my fancy. I like the difficult familiarity, what I think I see, want to see, can't see. It makes me want to be there, to know. I'm probably old enough to be their father, though.

  6. lol. I think I'll always think I'm their age. Yeah, I probably wouldn't be *most* interested in the Christian Rock they've come to hear, either. But there's something about aesthetics that makes me think I could trust their other tastes, too.