Tuesday, January 08, 2008

"How to Behead"

The IslamOnline website published a poem last week, without attribution and without comment, in its "Arts and Culture" section, called "How to Behead.":
Hold him
Tie the arms behind his back
And bandage his legs together
Just by the ankles
Blindfold the punk
So that he won't hesitate as much
For on seeing the sharp pointy knife
He'll begin to shake
And continuously scream like an eedyat
And jiggle like a jelly
Trust me–this will sure get you angry
It’s better to have at least two or three brothers by your side
Who can hold the fool
Because as soon as the warm sharp knife
Touches his naked flesh
He'll come to know what'll happen
It's not as messy or as hard as some may think,
It's all about the flow of the wrist.
No doubt that the punk will twitch and scream
But ignore the donkey's ass
And continue to slice back and forth
You'll feel the knife hit the wind and food pipe
But don't stop
Continue with all your might.
About now you should feel the knife vibrate,
You can feel the warm heat being given off,
But this is due to the friction being caused.
The reactions from Muslim readers on the site was mostly disgust and anger at Islam Online for publishing it. Some tried to say that the poem was intended to make Muslims think but the vast majority were clearly upset, just as much for the content as much as for the poor image it gives of Muslims altogether.

Now, IOL is asking readers to write their own poems in response. It still hasn't identified the author or why it decided to print it. IOL itself in the past has published fatwas that were unequivocally against beheading prisoners.

The "poem" itself was written by the self-described "Lyrical Terrorist," a woman who was convicted of a terrorism charge in the UK and received a suspended sentence. She loved downloading beheading videos as well.

Why would Islam Online publish such a poem anonymously, without comment, in its "Arts and Culture" section? If it wanted to editorialize about the justice or perceived injustice of the verdict it should have provided some context. From the furious reaction of readers, it does not appear to reflect IOL's own views at all (although it has published plenty of fatwas supporting suicide bombing in Israel.) As poetry, it is horrendous.

My guess is that this was just poor judgment on the part of the Arts and Culture editor, to try to stir up controversy or to prove that most mainstream Muslims are revolted by beheadings. So far, IOL hasn't explained itself even as it acknowledged the controversy.