The song was inspired by the banning of rock music in Iran under Ayatollah Khomeini. The song gives a fictitious account of the ban being defied by the population who proceed to "rock the casbah", causing the King to order jetfighters to bomb any people in violation of the ban. The pilots ignore the orders, and instead play rock music on their cockpit radios. The song does not mention Iran, nor does it give the specifics of any Islamic nation, and in fact it uses Arabic terms instead of Persian, mentioning casbah, sharif, bedouin, and sheikh. This is typical of the Clash, who often mix up some of the particulars in political songs.