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CoverSM9What is it that turns peace-loving Muslims into militant Islamists? There are many answers to this complex question. One angle that might not naturally spring to mind is poetry. Yet this is what Dr Elisabeth Kendall argues in an interview for BBC Radio 4’s “The World This Weekend” with Mark Mardell. Based on her analyses of al-Qa’ida’s Arabic language journals together with fieldwork on the ground in Yemen, Dr Kendall argues that poetry has been used by al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula to adapt the global agenda of violent jihad to a local Yemeni context. Poetry does this by plugging into tribal honour codes and a long oral tradition of desert poetry that still holds broad appeal, particularly in areas where literacy and the infiltration of print culture remain low. It stirs emotions to reach local hearts and minds in ways that formal declarations and position statements cannot. Tune in to listen to this vital missing piece of the radicalisation puzzle. The discussion of poetry and militant jihad begins at 23:30 minutes into the broadcast.

 

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