In Indonesia, pious 'punks' promote Islam

BANDUNG, Indonesia (Reuters) - "Prophet Mohammad forever," chant the young Indonesian Muslim musicians. But instead of a mosque, the men are singing at an outdoor concert with a mosh pit full of followers of the country's first Islamic punk movement.

The movement is the first of its kind in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation, and has hundreds of members in three of the country's biggest cities - Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bandung.

11 PHOTOS
Indonesia's 'Punk Muslim' community
See Gallery
Indonesia's 'Punk Muslim' community
Punk community members dance during a punk music festival in Bandung, Indonesia West Java province, March 23, 2017. Picture taken March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Beawiharta TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A punk muslim member Reza Purnama holds an Islam history book, as he talks to fellow members at their community house in Bandung, Indonesia West Java province, January 21, 2017. Picture taken January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Beawiharta
A punk community member enjoys a punk music festival in Bandung, Indonesia West Java province, March 23, 2017. Picture taken March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Beawiharta
A punk muslim member learns to read the holy Koran at their community house in Bandung, Indonesia West Java province, January 21, 2017. Picture taken January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Beawiharta
Punk community members mosh during punk music festival in Bandung, Indonesia West Java province, March 23, 2017. Picture taken March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Beawiharta
Punk community members seen during punk music festival in Bandung, Indonesia West Java province, March 23, 2017. Picture taken March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Beawiharta
A holy Koran lies on the floor as a punk muslim community learn how to read the Koran at their community house in Bandung, Indonesia West Java province, January 21, 2017. Picture taken January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Beawiharta
A punk community member sings during punk music festival in Bandung, Indonesia West Java province, March 23, 2017. Picture taken March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Beawiharta
Punk community members dance during a punk music festival in Bandung, Indonesia West Java province, March 23, 2017. Picture taken March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Beawiharta
A punk muslim vocalist sings with the crowd during a punk music festival in Bandung, Indonesia West Java province, March 23, 2017. Picture taken March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Beawiharta
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Sporting mohawks, leather jackets and baggy jeans, members of the "Punk Muslim" group claim that they, like the original British punk rockers, are still defined by rebellion and an anti-establishment ideology. But they express it by singing about Islamic values, freedom for Palestine, and other social issues facing the global Muslim community.

Ahmad Zaki, one of the movement's founders, believes the genre of punk is often associated with a "tendency towards misbehavior" but he wants to change that.

Many of the group's members used to be street performers, and say they have changed drastically since joining the movement. They are now encouraged to form their own bands and write their own songs.

Reza Purnama, a member and a former alcoholic, says others like him are slowly quitting alcohol and their lyrics are becoming more positive.

"People aren't looking down on us anymore," he said, referring to a stigma against punks in Indonesia's largely conservative society.

After every concert, the head-banging audience bow their heads in prayer and listen to sermons - something the movement's founders hope will redirect their fans on to a more pious path.

Muslims make up nearly 90 percent of Indonesia's 250 million people and the vast majority of them practise a moderate form of Islam.

(Reporting by Tommy Ardiansyah and Johan Purnama; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.