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Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam rocked Film Streams

A documentary and panel discussion at Film Streams
Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam rocked Film Streams
Published on December 8, 2010

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Last Tuesday, November 30th, Project Interfaith and Film Streams co-sponsored the viewing of Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam at Film Streams’ Ruth Sokolof Theater. The documentary centered around a group of young Muslim Americans in the punk music scene. What was unique about this Muslim punk movement is that it was born out of a fictional piece about punk Muslims, The Taqwacores, by author Michael Muhammad Knight. Knight joined these bands as they traveled America receiving varied reactions, from acceptance and wariness, to downright disdain. The bands then took their act to Pakistan, juxtaposing American reaction to a Pakistani response.

The turnout for the event was spectacular, with over 150 audience members in attendance. Project Interfaith set up shop in the foyer of the theater offering information to any interested community members. They also conducted interviews with a number of audience members for its Community Mosaic Video Project. These brave souls answered questions on their religious/spiritual identity, stereotypes, and Omaha’s acceptance of their faith. Having the Mosaic interview team around paired nicely with the theme of the evening—identity—which is really what Taqwacore was all about.

Taqwacore Film PosterTaqwacore Film PosterSure, Taqwacore at first seemed unique in that you don’t see punk Muslims running around every day. But upon further thought, it’s no more outlandish than considering a person of Jewish, Christian, Hindu, or Atheist (etc, etc) background who happens to also be in a punk band. Fleshing out the full spectrum of who these punk band members were was the real message. They weren’t simply one-dimensional characters who were only Muslim, or only punk, or only youth. They were people with families, with a background story, with similarities and differences, with strengths and weaknesses. They had the same desire to figure out who they were just like we all do.

A well-rounded panel of four Muslim community members joined the audience after the viewing of Taqwacore to answer questions and discuss identity. They came from varied backgrounds: male, female, twenty-years, sixty-years, parent, child. Their mixed response to the film mirrored the mixed reaction to the punk bands in the documentary. Having such a varied reaction of the panel really underscored the concept of identity. They weren’t a group of 4 unified Muslims with a collective response. They were four multi-dimensional individuals whose separate life experiences helped to form their separate opinions and beliefs.

To learn more about Taqwacore, visit the Taqwacore website

To learn more about Project Interfaith and its Community Mosaic Video Project, visit the Project Interfaith website

To learn more about Film Streams, visit the Film Streams website


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