Monday, November 12, 2007

Convicted ... For Writing Poetry?

Can writing poetry be considered a criminal act?

Shirley Dent on the Guardian blog highlights the case of a young lady called Samina Malik. The self-appointed "lyrical terrorist", is the first woman to be convicted under the Terrorism Act after she downloaded various documents from terrorist websites.

And then:
... Malik went all Web 2.0 and posted poems - terrible, terrible poems - on various websites. That's about the extent of her terrorist activity. But never fear. The judge and prosecutors went the extra mile to give her a notoriety that her very, very bad poetry and infantile fantasies about being a terrorist really don't warrant.
The poetry was terrible - both in the sense of being badly written, and because of the violence it depicted.

One of Malik's poems, The Living Martyrs, read:
Let us make Jihad/ Move to the front line/ To chop chop head of kuffar swine.
Another was called How to Behead:
It's not as messy or as hard as some may think/ It's all about the flow of the wrist ...
Not at all nice.

But poetry, as Dent points out, is not a terrorist act, whatever the content or quality of it.

And Andrew Bolt of Australia's Herald Sun reckons that:
If she’d stuck to the style of Tupac Shakur, writing in a crop top and jeans rather than a hijab, none of this would have happened, of course, no matter how eerily similar the poetry would have been.
Readers wonder in the comment section where English PEN is in all this.

So do I.

You can watch the news report here:


Madcap Machinist said...

No, that's not true; she was convicted for possessing publications related to terrorism.

Anonymous said...

Miss Bib check this out:


Anonymous said...

esh, this is why i hate Blogger comment box!

the URL again:


bibliobibuli said...

viz thanks

was waiting to see the info about the panel session i'm involved with before i blogged it but you're right high time to put something up

bibliobibuli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Even if she was convicted for possessing publications related to terrorism, this is all a little "Minority report" isn't it?
And if possessing publications related to terrorism is illegal, then surely that's censorship?


bibliobibuli said...

that's the way things have gone in the UK Jen post 9/11 and the london bombings.

Rus Bowden said...

On Clattery MacHinery on Poetry, there is a call for poetic license, for freedom:

World Samina Malik Day December 6th


bibliobibuli said...

thanks so much for the link, rus, very good piece!

جبهة التهييس الشعبية said...

Join the campaing

Anonymous said...

I thought she was in Iran or something when I first read it. It's odd to believe that this sort of thing can happen in the UK.

Yes, it's odd that the British PEN is completely silent about this.

Rus Bowden said...

Hari Kunzru sits on the executive council of English PEN.

Here is his article on the matter at the Guardian:

Terror stricken


bibliobibuli said...

thanks Rus. i did link to this piece in a subsequent post