Monday, August 20, 2012

FREE PUSSY RIOT!!!

You have doubtless heard that Russian riot grrrl punk band/performance activists Pussy Riot have been sentenced by Russian courts to 2 years of hard labor for "hooliganism motivated by  religious hatred."  There crime was bumrushing the altar in a Russian Orthodox Church and conducting a 40-second prayer to the Virgin to remove Putin from power.  Some of the language coming out of the case is almost startling in its blend of authoritarianism, patriarchy and religious fundamentalism.  Head Patriarch Kirill (God, does that sound like a villain in some science fiction movie or what?) commented that "We have no future if we allow mocking in front of great shrines, and if some see such mocking as some sort of valour, as an expression of political protest, as an acceptable action or a harmless joke.”  One of the prosecuting lawyers sated that “Lurching behind [Pussy Riot] are the real enemies of our state and of the Orthodox Christianity; those who instigated this multipurpose provocation are hiding behind Tolokonnikova’s group, and [there are also others] hiding behind those who are hiding behind them.”  He went on to assert that the incident could “soon escalate into events comparable to the explosion of the twin towers on September 11th in America… It was proven that the act had been committed not by the American government or by the C.I.A. but by forces above them. For instance, all the employees of the shopping center”—the lawyer referred to the W.T.C. as torgovy tsentr, the Russian for “mall”—had been informed through secret masonic channels that they should not report to work on September 11th.” When the interviewer asked, “Do you mean that the Pussy Riot act and the terrorist attack in the U.S. were organized by the same people?,” the lawyers responded, “In the first instance it was a satanic group, and in the second it was the global government. But at the highest level both are connected—by Satan.”
So Pussy Riot are getting a lot of coverage in the international media, which is a very good thing.  I'm sure that part of the reason for their viral exposure is that they just have a great name that people love to say, and that conjures exactly what the band is about.  They also have a great look, all wearing colorful, hand-knitted ski masks.  And there's just a lot about this particular case that pushes peoples buttons in America, as the quotes in the previous paragraph demonstrate.  But as long as the spotlight is on them, let's spread that spotlight out a bit.

Russia isn't the only place in the world where it's shitty to be a politically outspoken musician (or writer, artist or activist).  In fact, there are plenty of places where it's much worse.  Iran, for instance, where rapper Shahin Najafi has had a fatwa declared on him for writing a "blasphemous" rap (I use the quotes because, if you listen to the story, the lyrics in question are so mild that it seems unbelievable), and singer Mohsen Namjoo can't return to the country for fear of a jail sentence for making modern, rock-influenced versions of Islamic spiritual songs. (Both of the linked stories are from the Global Hit part of PRI's The World, where musicians facing political oppression is a recurring theme).  Or Iraq, where heavy metal fans and musicians meet in an underground network to attack religious fanaticism with music, despite being hunted by both government and terrorists. In Azerbaijan (no, I've never heard of it either), a musician was arrested, beaten, and is currently being held without access to lawyer or loved ones for trash-talking the President's mama.  Throughout the Muslim world, from Morocco to Turkey, musicians are repressed.  But it doesn't stop there. You got to go deep underground to hear rock music in Cuba.  And you sure need to watch your mouth in TibetYou can find a lot more of these stories on the Freemuse website.

Anyway, can't hurt to go to Amnesty's website and take some action for the Pussy Riot girls.  But let's also remember that this is not an isolated incident. And here's Pussy Riot's hot new single!

2 Comments:

Blogger Craxblorg said...

I didn't know about many of these cases, thank you. It's frightening just how limited freedom of expression has become worldwide. I just saw footage of Garry Kasparov (yeah, the chess guy) getting arrested for criticizing the Russian government at a rally in support for Pussy Riot. Cuz, you know, middle aged chess grandmasters are such hardened criminals.

8/20/2012 11:30 AM  
Blogger Alexandra Davidoff said...

Pussy Riot protested injustice and inequality with an artistic expression. They screamed and we listened. But in a country with deeply rooted political/religious entanglement using fear to control, they should have made their protest more elegantly. Claims that they offended believers has blurred Pussy Riot's original message and have given the governing powers an excuse to cage them. Is their sentence really remarkable, or should they have seen it coming? As Russia faces global scrutiny, what is the rest of the world doing to uphold democracy? http://mayorgate.blogspot.com/2012/08/pussy-riot-censored-by-disappropriate.html

8/27/2012 11:35 AM  

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