A Portrait of the Muslim-American Hardcore Scene, The Taqwacores Is Not Punk Rock


There are all the elements of a terrific spoof in The Taqwacores, which follows a year in the life of a house of Muslim punk/hardcore college-age kids living in Buffalo, New York. Overlapping two such rulebook, sellout-obsessed groups, with all the contradictory dictates of scene-policing and Islamic law, you’ve got a comedy of impossibly tangled manners, right? Well, the first sign The Taqwacores will be rough-going is when a character shows up in a burqa covered in crust-punk patches . . . and it’s not a gag. Audience-surrogate Yusef (Bobby Naderi), a square Pakistani student who enters the house uninitiated, is witness to a fight for the soul of Muslim hardcore between studded-jacket-wearing Jehangir (Dominic Rains), who preaches an inclusive, party-friendly, esoteric doctrine, and fundamentalist straight-edge soldier Umar (Nav Mann). If “punk rock” as such is still important for any extra-musical reason, it’s for its do-it-yourself tradition that gives creative kids an escape from authority-sanctioned and pop-trash culture—but The Taqwacores is more interested in the middle-finger, spit-gobbing, screw-off, frat-party acting-up variety, all pretty enervating.

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