TASHKENT — Rap music in Uzbekistan should not be called 'evil and satanic', part of Western culture, although rappers should include "love for the homeland" in their songs, an Uzbek official said Tuesday.
A documentary entitled "Melody and Calamity" shown on state TV earlier this year "incorrectly interpreted the role of rap and rock" and scared many Uzbek rappers, said Azamat Haydarov, director of the Uzbeknavo association in charge of licensing and overseeing musicians.
The film condemned rock and rap as Western liberal excesses, calling them "evil and satanic".
It said that "rock music originated from African hunting rituals" and "rap originated from inmates," and was "created by evil forces to bring youth in Western countries to total moral degradation."
According to Haydarov, many Uzbek rappers were really frightened by the documentary and seriously worried about their future.
Still, "we don't want Uzbek rap music to be part of harmful Western mass culture and want to give it a national mentality and spirit," he said.
"We counted around 30 rap singers, held a dialogue with them. They agreed that rap songs could be humane, about love for the homeland and nature," he told reporters at a press conference in Tashkent on measures against pernicious influence of Western style mass culture.
The first deputy minister of culture and sports Bakhtiyor Sayfullaev warned that mass culture was encroaching from all sides, through the Internet and TV affecting Uzbek youth.
"We should not stand indifferent if someone sings loud Western songs wearing jeans with holes or miniskirts. We can fight against mass culture by developing and strengthening our national culture and music," he said.
Uzbekistan is Central Asia's most populous country, where 90 percent of the 28 million inhabitants are Muslim.
The secular government, wary of both religious extremist ideology and "excesses of Western democracy", has in recent months shown increasing impatience with cultural imports from abroad.