Writing Poetry = A Terrorist Act?

Here’s what happened to a young poet in the UK because of their new anti-terrorist legislation.

2pm GMT update

‘Lyrical terrorist’ sentenced over extremist poetry

Read the poetry penned by Samina Malik

Claire Truscott and agencies
Thursday December 6, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

Samina Malik
Samina Malik, who called herself the ‘lyrical terrorist’, is the first woman to be convicted under new terrorism legislation. Photograph: Metropolitan Police/PA

A 23-year-old former Heathrow shop assistant who called herself the “lyrical terrorist” and scrawled her extremist thoughts on till receipts has been handed a nine-month suspended jail sentence. Samina Malik became the first woman convicted under new terrorism legislation after writing poems entitled How To Behead and The Living Martyrs.

“The Terrorism Act and the restrictions it imposes on the personal freedom exist to protect this country, its interests here and abroad, its citizens, and those who visit here. Its protection embraces us all. Its restrictions apply to us all, whatever our personal religious or political beliefs.”

He told Malik that if she had been convicted of the more serious charge of possessing an article for terrorist purposes – of which the jury cleared her – she would have faced a jail term. But he said, while a custodial sentence was merited, she had already faced “extremely rigorous” bail conditions which were “tantamount to house arrest”.

The court heard that she also spent five months in custody after being arrested in October last year. Malik’s sentence was suspended for 18 months, with the condition that she be supervised for the whole period and undertake unpaid work.

Outside court Malik’s solicitor Iqbal Ahmed read out a statement on her behalf. He said: “The trial process has been a terrible ordeal for her and she is now relieved that it is all over. The jury found that she did not have the material for terrorist purposes which was an important part of her case. She now wants to get on with her life.”

Last month, Malik was found guilty of possessing records likely to be useful in terrorism by a majority of 10 to one. She cried as the verdict was read. Two female jurors were also in tears. The court heard that Malik stocked a “library” of material useful to terrorists at her family home in Southall, west London.

Now, I don’t know a whole lot about the Harperites’ new law-and-order legislation, but I sure as hell hope that it doesn’t contain provisions that will result in me being imprisoned for speaking my truth to power. [See Update, below!] I understand the Loyal Opposition aka the Liberals are supporting the law-and-order bill. As a Poet in Canada I rilly-rilly hope they’ve checked it out thoroughly because we already know that the Harperites cannot be trusted to act in the best interests of Canada. Can you say Bali?

UPDATE: “Proposed legislation will grant law enforcement and security agencies extraordinary powers to detain and question individual suspects accused of terror activities WITHOUT due process and evidence.”

Thanks to Lady Broadoak for the lead.

Thanks to Verbena-19 for the update.

One thought on “Writing Poetry = A Terrorist Act?

  1. Whooee!

    There once was a poet Malik,
    Who thought she had freedom to speak.
    She made up a rhyme,
    For which she did time.
    Now, the future of freedom looks bleak.

    Arrest me.


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