“Hundreds of Moroccan heavy metal fans met on Saturday for their biggest festival in the north African country since a group of hard rock enthusiasts was jailed five years ago for “Satanism”. Braving the opprobrium of Islamists and heavy rain, young men in black jeans and jackets, goatee beards and dreadlocks trudged to a cavernous concert hall in Sidi Kacem, a market town in a farming region of northern Morocco.
As the first group Hammerhead began tuning up, a small Fiat drew up outside the hall and two police officers stepped out. “It’s OK,” said organizer Yassine Ould Abbou, 22. “They’re just here to check the security arrangements.” A clang of grinding guitar feedback signaled the start of the concert and prompted startled glances from veiled women and men on mopeds passing by. “Most people in this town have never seen an electric guitar,” said Yassine. “We had 500 people at our last concert in 2005 and this time we’re expecting about 1,000.”