If a poem is a projection of the poet’s mind and heart, this one being taught at Calicut University has made many people uncomfortable.
Why? Because the poet here is an ideologue of terror group Al Qaeda!
Ibrahim al-Rubaish’s ‘Ode to the Sea’ captures his feelings during his incarceration in the Guantanamo Bay prison on a Cuban island and has now been made part of the Kerala based university’s Literature and Contemporary Issues studies, said a newspaper report on Wednesday. The 33-year-old Saudi Arabian was arrested soon after the 9/11 attacks in Afghanistan and spent five years in Guantanamo where he wrote the poem.
It was later published in Amnesty International anthology ‘Poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak’.
One lecturer from Calicut University was quoted as saying that while the poem was expressive, the poet’s background was “quite disturbing”.
The teacher said another poet’s verses expressing similar sentiments emanating from captivity could have been used.
According to an Associated Press report from December 2009, Ibrahim Suleiman al-Rubaish appeared to have “played significant roles in al-Qaeda’s expanding offshoot in Yemen”.
It said al-Rubaish was “a theological adviser to the group and his writings and sermons are prominent in the group’s literature”.
Al-Rubaish supported Al Qaeda’s bid to assassinate the Saudi counterterrorism chief in August 2009 and cited his experience in Guantanamo as a motive.
“They (Saudi officials) are the ones who came to Guantanamo, not to ask about us and reassure us, but to interrogate us and to provide the Americans with information – which was the reason for increased torture against some,” the report quoted him as saying in an audio recording posted on the Internet.
His name was later put on ’85 Most Wanted’ list released by Saudi authorities.Al-Rubaish left behind his wife and three children to rejoin join al-Qaeda in Yemen in April 2008.
Here is the poem in full. Tell us if should be taught to post-graduate students or not in Calicut University.
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.