Radical singer takes to stage

Oxford Mail: Aki Nawaz Aki Nawaz

A radical rap singer who has been accused of glorifying terrorism has been invited to speak and perform in Oxford by the Muslim Education Centre of Oxford.

Aki Nawaz, of Fun-da-Mental, whose album All is War (The Benefits of G-had) has provoked calls for him to be arrested under anti-terrorism laws, is due to visit the city on Sunday.

HMV and Virgin record shops refuse to stock his music because of the controversy.

Dr Taj Hargey, chairman of Meco, said: "I think it's important for the people of Oxford to listen to alternative voices. We need to look at anti-establishment views to have a balanced perspective about issues regarding terrorism and the war in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

"Aki Nawaz definitely has something to say and will give us much food for thought.

"He's not glorifying terrorism. We wouldn't have invited him if he was. We're not in the business of creating mayhem and violence. We're building bridges of tolerance and understanding.

"We have been given only the Blairite position - he says 9/11 and 7/7 have nothing to do with foreign policy, but that's a Blairite fantasy world. Foreign policy has a great deal to do with the anger and disillusionment of the young men who carry out terrorist attacks.

"Music has always been used as a vehicle for people to express their political alienation. John Lennon and the Sex Pistols did it. Why should Aki Nawaz be singled out and not allowed to?

"That's why we have called the event Let Me Sing, Let Me Speak. They want to silence him, we want to hear him, and people have every right to disagree."

Dr Hargey, an Oxford University academic, who lives in Headington, is a campaigner for racial integration.

Songs by Fun-da-Mental that have caused controversy include Cookbook DIY, which has lyrics about how a suicide bomber makes his bomb. It also has a verse about how a White House scientist makes his bomb - equating the two.

Mr Nawaz, 43, a married father of four, who lives in London, says his music is designed to expose the hypocrisy and contradictions of conventional democracy and free speech.

He said: "I want to get people to think out of the box of politics. I want to provoke discussion and get involved in a debate.

"The reason why we're in this state of ignorance is because people aren't allowed the space for discussions, because of the media barrage of Islamophobia and racism against Muslims."

Mr Nawaz has been criticised by Labour MP Andrew Dinsmore, who has called for him to be arrested under the Terrorism Act.

Mr Nawaz will speak and sing at Summertown Hall, on the corner of Banbury Road and Portland Road, on Sunday, at 3pm. Entrance is free.

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