01: Endowed with a powerful voice, Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer is an unusual full-time imam because he is also an active part-time singer in a rock band, wears jeans, sports long hair and rides a Kawasaki motorcycle. He has been performing with his Firock band since 2010 and has become a celebrity, although conservative Muslims denounce rock music as a deviation from Islamic culture—something reminiscent of debates in other religious traditions regarding the legitimacy of specific musical styles. Yet the unusual imam has gained sympathy from more secular circles in Turkey. He appeals also to those who appreciate spirituality without being religious.
“Tuzer’s lyrics are filled with references of the love for and compassion of God,” although his popularity could also be a prelude to a coming post-conservative phase in Turkey, now that conservatives have reached the peak of their power, according to one observer. The phenomenon is reported to be an example of synthesis between Islam and modernity. (Source: Al Monitor, Feb. 24)
02: Shahid King Bolson, a former Catholic convert to Islam, is an influential leader in a movement blending anti-globalization rhetoric and Islamist politics. Bolson, a 43-year-old native of Boulder, Colo., is based in Egypt and is part of a new wave of anti-corporate activism associated with acts of violence against businesses across the country. He mixes Koranic verses with attacks against “corporate crusaders,” arguing that multinational corporations are the real power behind the military takeover in Egypt. The acts of violence have mainly hit empty banks, stores and restaurants, although two people have been killed.
King makes his living giving private English lessons and mainly disseminates his message through Islamist web sites, satellite television networks and social media. His Facebook page has more than 56,000 followers, most of whom are Egyptians.
(Source: New York Times, March 2)