JAKARTA, Indonesia – Meliani Siti Sumartini, a 15-year-old Indonesian girl who loves playing the guitar and heavy metal music, is gaining online attention not only from her country but from all over the world.
But while Meliani, or Mel, is gaining praise for her guitar chops, her being a Muslim has also drawn unwanted hate comments.
A video she uploaded in March 2014 on her YouTube channel, a cover of heavy metal band Lamb of God’s Hourglass, has gone viral over the past two days after being discovered by metal music websites and being posted on Reddit. It’s been viewed more than 300,000 times as of Friday, January 9, several timest higher than the hits for her other videos.
Several commenters praised the skills displayed by the high school student who lives in Bandung, West Java, about two hours from Jakarta.
“As a fellow guitarist, I’ve tried to learn that exact song and it can be pretty difficult. She’s great!,” one Reddit user said.
“Very cool. Hope that she sticks with it, cause she’s got some chops,” a commenter on MetalInjection.net wrote.
Some even suggested raising funds to send her better equipment.
Unfortunately, not everyone is on the same page.
The fact that Mel wears a jilbab – the headscarf worn by Muslim women – has attracted several hate comments on her YouTube account, particularly in the wake of the terrorist attack on French magazine Charlie Hebdo.
In one such comment, a user on Metalinjection.net wrote, “I just hope her muslim parents didn’t hear her play and beat her afterwards.” The user later posted a Charlie Hebdo magazine cover in response to those who defended her.
There were worse ones on YouTube, but many came to her defense, such as user Anula Namshum, who posted: “I don’t understand why people are talking about everything except her skills on the guitar. And why the hell are you bringing her religion in this? Can’t you see that she is just a young girl sharing her passion for music. Learn to respect that! if you wanna fight on religion, go do it somewhere else.”
For the record, heavy metal is popular in the Muslim-majority country, with President Joko Widodo himself a proud metalhead.
And playing the guitar isn’t the only thing Mel can do. In another video that’s been making the rounds, she displays the inhale scream technique used by metal band vocalists. Check it out for yourself:
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