Garut, London- In a daring step, and a change in the stereotypical image of Muslim girls, the “VOP” or “Noisy Voices” band is made up of three girls. However, with their heads covered with Islamic headscarves, the members of the band do not look like your typical heavy metal group.
Formed in 2014, the music band of the three teenagers met at school in Indonesia’s most populous province of West Java, and use their music to combat the stereotype of Muslim women as submissive or voiceless.
Firdda Kurnia, 16, who plays guitar and sings said: “Wearing hijab, or Islamic headscarf, should not be a barrier to the group’s pursuit of its dream of being heavy metal stars.”
“I think gender equality should be supported, because I feel I am still exploring my creativity, while at the same time, not diminishing my obligations as a Muslim woman,” she added.
Invited to perform at a recent graduation ceremony at another school, the trio quickly had fans dancing and head-banging at the front of the stage.
Besides covering classics by groups such as Metallica and Slipknot, the band performs its own songs that deal with social issues such as education in Indonesia.
Muslims make up nearly 90 percent of a population of 250 million, the vast majority practicing a moderate form of Islam, although there are some conservative strongholds.
Not everyone in the town of Garut, where the band was formed, and which is home to several Islamic schools, feels the community is ready for them, or that their music is appropriate for performance by young Muslim women.
Muhammad Sholeh, a teacher at the town’s Cipari Islamic boarding school said: “It is unusual to see a group of hijab-wearing girls playing metal music or even women shouting”.
He added that religious pop music was popular with many young Muslims. “But we’re talking about metal here, which is loud.”
An official of a top clerical body said although the group might trigger a culture clash in a conservative area, he did not feel it broke with Islamic values.
“I see this as part of the creativity of teenagers,” added Nur Khamim Djuremi, secretary general of the Islamic Art and Culture Division of Indonesia’s Ulema Council.