Controversial poem no more in Kerala varsity syllabus

Kozhikode (Kerala), July 25 : Following protests, a poem written by an alleged Al Qaeda leader was withdrawn temporarily from the syllabus for undergraduates in Kerala's Calicut University, an official said Thursday.

The poem, 'Ode to the Sea', written by Ibrahim al-Rubaish, a former detainee of Guantanamo Bay camp of the US, was part of the text 'Literature and Contemporary Issue Studies' for third semester BA and BSc students.

Speaking to IANS, the university's board of studies member M.M. Basheer said: "At the moment, the poem is temporarily withdrawn only and the board of studies will meet to discuss what needs to be done."

"I was asked to look into it and I can say that the work is an excellent one and all students of literature should certainly read it. What I have done is I have translated the poem into Malayalam and submitted it to the vice-chancellor," said Basheer.

"Please understand when this was recommended to the syllabus, only the merit was looked into and how can people know the antecedents of the writer as some now say he is an Al-Qaeda man, while some others say it's not true. How are we to know these facts," asked Basheer.

The poem introduces the writer as a Saudi national who has a Master's in Shariat laws from Imam Muhammed Bin Saud University in Riyadh.

It is alleged that al-Rubaish was taken into custody by the US forces from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and held in detention at Guantanamo Bay, where he wrote this poem.

In 2006, he was transferred to Saudi Arabia from where he escaped from custody and is now reported to be a senior figure in Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

--IANS (Posted on 25-07-2013)

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