North Carolina

African band’s North Carolina tour date brings racism, threats on Facebook, venue says


When a venue in North Carolina posted about North African rock group Tinariwen’s tour stop in Winston-Salem, the comments were taken over with racism and threats, according to the Triad City Beat.

The Grammy-winning band from northern Mali that has opened for the likes of the Rolling Stones still plans to play The Ramkat on Sept. 17, according to music site Mxdwn.

The comments on two sponsored Facebook posts included, “So ISIS is playing the Ramcat? LOL,” the Triad City Beat reported.

“Look like terrorists to me. Um no way,” another person said, according to the newspaper.

“Ain’t looking at nothing Muslim. The wanna-be religion that’s the plague of the world,” yet another said, quoted by City Beat.

The Facebook posts featured the band in their usual dress of robes and turbans.

“There are also threats of gun and bomb violence, and some comparing the group — which has shared stages with Robert Plant and The Rolling Stones — to the Taliban and ISIS,” according to WFDD.

Andy Tennille, one of the owners of The Ramkat, told the station that his reaction was “just disgusted. Disgusted at the fact that people were so emboldened to put such hateful and vitriolic words in a public forum. It was incredibly disappointing.”

“Initially the first couple of comments, I deleted the comments because I was ashamed and disappointed at the fact that this kind of hate and vitriol was happening right here in Winston-Salem,” Tennille told the station.

But then they decided to leave the comments on the post, he told WFDD. “And it’s better to have these people be identified with the comments they’re making versus us deleting them and somehow not shining a light on this kind of behavior, which both of us — and all of us — should feel is totally unacceptable.”

“If you’re talking about wanting to have Western values, rock music is one of the best ways to get a wedge in the door,” Ramkat partner Richard Emmett told the City Beat. “They play electric guitars! The comments about ISIS — these guys ban music. Tinariwen promotes music.”

Tennille plans to add extra security for the Sept. 17 show and ask the Winston-Salem Police Department to have officers on site, according to WFDD.

Tinariwen’s members have faced much more serious threats than Facebook comments. Islamic extremists took over much of Mali, their home country, in 2012 and banned music, according to Foreign Policy magazine.

“Radio stations were burned down, instruments were destroyed, and musicians were forced to flee or face persecution and even death,” Foreign Policy said.

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.