Tesnim Sayar is a Muslim punk. She wears both the headscarf and a mohawk and dreams of living of her own design. And like other supporters of the Muslim punk movement Taqwacore, she sees no contradiction between punk and Islam
“I’m tired of people’s generalizations and stereotypes about Muslim girls. Therefore, I am punk, ‘says 21-year design student Tesnim Sayar, who calls herself a Muslim goth-punk.” Photo: Kristina Ask
Since Tesnim Sayar was 12 years old, she bought her first rivet bracelet. She paid an ’50s for it in a different alluring shop in Odense.
Since then “pighalsbånd”, ring in the nose, piercing the lower lip and safety pins in clothes crept into her wardrobe. And then a mohawk of black plastic that can be zipped on and off her headscarf.
Tesnim Sayar was born in Denmark but have Turkish roots and have worn a headscarf since she was eight years. Today she is 21 years and calls herself a Muslim goth-punk.
She designs clothes in Kolding Design School, where she goes to a fashion design line.
“When I was younger, I thought it was hard to find clothing that was both smart and enveloping. The smart was too low cut, and so it was soon to layer upon layer, where I came to look like an old grandmother. I would change that, “says Tesnim and gesturing enthusiastically with his fingerless gloves with imprint of skeleton hands while the chainbracelet rattles.
Tesnim is not the only one that unites two worlds that seem difficult compatible. The Muslim punk movement Taqwacore today has followers all over the world.
In prayer on pizza boxes
Actually, the movement began as pure fiction, as the 32-year-old author Michael Muhammad Knight 2003 published the novel in 2003 called The Taqwacores about a Muslim punk collective in Buffalo.
Among the residents are Muslim gays, a burqa clad punk girl who shares blowjobs out Sufis with mohawks, Indonesian skaters and high Muslim skinheads who use pizza boxes as prayer rugs.
Their living room, where there is a hole in the wall in the direction of Mecca, contains both celebrations and prayer which are advertised to the sound of electric guitar. The residents’ lives consist of sex, dope, and religion, while cultivating an Islamic punk subculture called Taqwacore derived from the words hardcore and the Arabic word to be God conscious, Taqwa.
Since Tesnim Sayar bought her first rivet bracelet the book about the taqwacore was not yet written, but Tesnim already knew that she wanted to design clothes, and that she was attracted to things that were different. So it still is.
“I go with it, because I think it’s cool and fits me. I have not designed it to provoke. But my message is also that one should refrain from thinking that Muslim girls are sitting at home and are boring,” says Tesnim in the Youth House on Dortheavej in Copenhagen.
“One of my friends says that one defines a punk as someone who is opposed to some form of oppression. I’m tired of people’s generalizations and stereotypes about Muslim girls. Therefore, I am punk,” says Tesnim.
Out of respect for her parents she takes off her mohawk & keeps the scarf and is content to keep the rivets on when she visits her family in Odense. Their vision of Islam is otherwise very similar to her own, she emphasizes. It is knowledge rather than tradition.
“I do not think Islam is oppressive, but I am against blindly to live by traditions, whose background is unknown. The more you know, the more free you become. That’s what my parents taught me,” says Tesnim who can not see why punk should clash with Islam.
Muhammad as punk
About the same time that Tesnim Sayar puts the first safety pin stuck in the headscarf and expands the collection of rivet bracelet, begins the novel about the Taqwacores to gain a cult status among young Muslims who have difficulty finding their place between the patriarchal family patterns, rules from the home country and a society who will not recognize them.
In Texas, sits one of the young people who find it difficult to let the book go again. The 15-year-old Iranian American, Kourosh Poursalchi, contacts Michael Muhammad Knight so he could be associated with a band from the book. He thinks, that the book’s universe is real. When he was disappointed to find out that the Muslim punk collective was just fiction, he creates his own version of Taqwacore by adding music to an excerpt of the book. It will be for the song “Muhammad was a punk rocker.”
A new music genre called taqwacore born, and with the novel and the new music genre follows a subculture and an ideological meeting point for young Muslim punks. A movement that offers both Western prejudices and radical Islamists the middle finger.
Most of Tesnims friends think that her clothing style is bold. But even though she hates it when other people to decide how she should look, she would never take her clothes on when she is visiting Turkey.
“There’s just someone who is going to drive into somethig if I come walking in the street in this outfit. Or I’m going to the hospital of people with a mental illness.” She laughs and tells of the many responses she gets on the streets in Copenhagen.
An old man had difficulty moving his walker quickly enough that he could follow her with his eyes. Another car stopped and yelled at her.
“And a woman stopped on the street and said, no, no, no, after which I replied yes, yes, yes, says Tesnim and demonstrates how the mohawk can be zipped off.
She dreams of a living of designing clothes. Whether it is clothing for Muslim punks, she does not know yet. At least she doesn’t expect dropping the rivets and mohawk right away.
“Maybe I’ll put the mohawk away when I turn 60 I do not know. Who knows, maybe I’ll have to walk around with a skull on my stick.”
(Source. Translated from danish to english by me)
This is really interesting.
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