Monday, October 10, 2005

Iraqi Freedom

Is this the sort of freedom Mr Bush has intended for Iraq? As a musician, learning of the repression of music in a part of Iraq we were said to have "liberated" is no better evidence for the total failure of the Iraqi adventure. This comprises failures in intelligence, planning, execution, and follow-through: they should have seen it coming and they should have done something about it.

Islam has always been conflicted about music, with Islamic legal schools holding contradictory viewpoints. All the schools agree that the recitation of the Quran is not to be understood as music, and the performance and audition of music proper may be embraced by some authorities, tolerated by others, and completed rejected by still others. In spite of this ambiguous status, the Islamicate regions of the world have both conserved and developed rich and exquisite musical traditions, ranging from the complexity of fully developed classical repertoire to the immediacy of folk and popular traditions that continue to provide an excellent mirror to musical practice in the western traditions.

A loss of any musical tradition is a tragedy without measure. If the United States and its allies have been an instrument in this particular loss, it is a tragedy that could have been avoided, and that is simply wrong.

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