Arts, Culture & Media

Stereotypes — this Muslim punk band tries to break 'em and highlight 'em

This story is a part of

Global Nation
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This story is a part of

Global Nation

The Kominas.jpg

The Kominas.

Credit:

Eddie Austin/Facebook.com/Kominas

Muslim Punk. Yeah, I know the label confuses people.

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Just the word punk conjures up angry people. Then you add the word Muslim, and you get angry Muslim punks. It's a difficult stereotype to break.

But check out The Kominas. The name, by the way, means "scoundrels."

They've been around since 2005 and were originally formed in the Boston area by Pakistani Americans living here.

They later decamped to Pakistan for a few years. "I felt like the culture brought me over there," says band member Basim Usmani. "I just felt that I needed to learn a little bit more about Punjabi, I needed to learn a little bit more about Pakistan."

Usmani says the band wasn't being understood here in the US and there was "a lot of misreporting ... a lot of agendas that people put on top of us."   

And that had to do with the band being pigeonholed into the "Muslim Punk" category. But Shahjehan Khan wants to emphasize, "I would say primarily now we're a South Asian band that has written a bunch of Muslim punk songs ... it's now become part of this rich tapestry of who we are, so it's not as uncomfortable for us to be described that way so long as people get the whole picture."  

The Kominas' have since left Pakistan and once again are living the United States. They've released a new album called "Stereotype."

Shahjehan Khan says the new title is fitting as the songs "deal with everything from police brutality to Islamophobia." One example, a ska-tinged song entitled "See Something Say Something."