In Calicut university, a poem by al Qaeda leader

The inclusion of a poem written by an al Qaeda ideologue in its literature syllabus by Calicut University has kicked up a huge controversy in Kerala.

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: The inclusion of a poem written by an al Qaeda ideologue in its literature syllabus by Calicut University has kicked up a huge controversy in Kerala.

`Ode to the Sea` is one of the ‘literary’ works of Ibrahim al-Rubaish, a key member of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Rubaish wrote the poem on a wall of his cell in Guantanamo Bay prison, where he spent five years after he was captured near the Pakistan-Afghan border in 2001.

The poem was a part of an anthology featuring works by noted poets such as Pablo Neruda, Sylvia Plath and Kamala Das.

The poem describes the 33-year-old Saudi Arabian`s feelings during his five-year imprisonment in the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Al-Rubaish is described in ‘about the author’ section of the book as follows: ‘‘Ibrahim Sulayman Muhammad Arbaysh alias Ibrahim al-Rubaish is a Saudi citizen who was held in detention in the Guantanamo camp. In December 2006, Rubaish and a number of other Saudis were released from Guantanamo and sent to Saudi Arabia.’’

The issue has stirred a hornet’s nest with voices demanding that the poem prescribed for the third semester text ‘Literature and Contemporary Issues’ be immediately removed.

First published in 2006 by Amnesty International in the anthology "Poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak", the poem`s inclusion in the university`s syllabus is being opposed owing to the author’s links with terror outfits.

Ibrahim al-Rubaish is believed to have played a significant role in the emergence of al Qaeda`s offshoot in Yemen. He is a theological adviser to the group and his writings and sermons have found prominent place in group`s literature.

In December 2006, he was released with many others and sent to a Saudi rehabilitation programme from where he disappeared.

Later, his name was added in `85 Most Wanted` list released by Saudi authorities.

The Poem

Ibrahim al-Rubaish

Ode To The Sea

O sea, give me news of my loved ones.

Were it not for the chains of the faithless, I would have dived into you,

And reached my beloved family, or perished in your arms.

Your beaches are sadness, captivity, pain, and injustice.

Your bitterness eats away at my patience.

Your calm is like death, your sweeping waves are strange.

The silence that rises up from you holds treachery in its fold.

Your stillness will kill the captain if it persists,

And the navigator will drown in your waves.

Gentle, deaf, mute, ignoring, angrily storming,

You carry graves.

If the wind enrages you, your injustice is obvious.

If the wind silences you, there is just the ebb and flow.

O sea, do our chains offend you?

It is only under compulsion that we daily come and go.

Do you know our sins?

Do you understand we were cast into this gloom?

O sea, you taunt us in our captivity.

You have colluded with our enemies and you cruelly guard us.

Don`t the rocks tell you of the crimes committed in their midst?

Doesn`t Cuba, the vanquished, translate its stories for you?

You have been beside us for three years, and what have you gained?

Boats of poetry on the sea; a buried flame in a burning heart.

The poet`s words are the font of our power;

His verse is the salve for our pained hearts.