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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Poets and Apostates

Complete Review posts at the Literary Saloon about a Jordanian poet accused of being an enemy of Islam, quoting an article in UAE's The National:

Last week, Jordan’s grand mufti, Noah Alqdah Samas, the kingdom’s highest religious authority, called [Islam] Samhan an enemy of religion for his poetry, some of which included lines comparing his loneliness to that of the prophet Yusuf in the Quran...

All this comes as something of a surprise to Samhan, whose book, In a Slim Shadow, published eight months ago, is a collection of his best work over the past decade. The ministry of culture even bought 50 copies.

As The National points out, Jordan is currently working through and working out its own cultural politics of freedom of expression, including King Abdullah II engaging in conversation with bloggers on the website of newspaper Al-Dustour. The charges have prompted discussion in Jordan's online community.

Also a supportive comment for Samhan from the ever-vigilant DhimmiWatch, an organisation dedicated to the curious project of promoting free speech, democracy and feminism (all buzzwords beloved of George W. Bush's administration as casui belli) by promoting the idea of a monolithic, extremist Islam as a, and the only, global threat to free-thinking writers. I look forward to their equally rousing defence of Naomi Wolf, who wrote recently in the Huffington Post about suffering similar threats and shadowy persecution (allegedly government-sponsored) in the US.

The National ends its article with pithy comments voicing the support for freedom of expression within Jordan, from newspaper editor Muwafak Malqawi and from Saud Qubeilat, head of the Jordanian Writers Association, who

warned: “One shouldn’t judge poetry based on literal terms, otherwise many of the poets would be declared apostates."

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