Reza Aslan in Slate:
Welcome to the new Middle East, a region where, by some estimates, nearly half of the population is under the age of 25. This is a highly literate, politically sophisticated, technologically savvy, and globally plugged-in generation. It speaks English; it knows its way around the Internet; and, according to historian and part-time metal head Mark LeVine, it wants to rock.
LeVine, a professor at University of California, Irvine, has spent the last few years headbanging his way from Morocco to Pakistan and almost everywhere in between. The premise of his book about the Middle East’s underground music scene, Heavy Metal Islam, is simple. “To understand the peoples, cultures, and politics of the Muslim world today, especially the young people who are the majority of the citizens,” LeVine writes, “we need to follow the musicians and their fans as much as the mullahs and their followers.”
Follow them he does, and with all the dogged determination of a seasoned Grateful Dead fan. In Cairo, he rocks with Hate Suffocation, “the best death-metal band in Egypt, if not the Middle East and North Africa,” dancing along with a gaggle of screaming girls dressed in tight jeans, torn Iron Maiden T-shirts, and Islamic headscarves: Muhajababes, LeVine calls them.