What is it about?

For over a millennium, poetry has held a prominent role in the socio-political scene of the Arab world. To date, the classical Arabic ode remains an influential vehicle for mobilization among jihadi circles. This article explores how Salafi-jihadi groups like ISIS use poetry –an ancient instrument of mobilization –to communicate power relations in jihadi circles. It also provides a more granular scheme for modern jihadi poetry by discussing the art and function of this genre. This article shows how modern jihadi poetry works to spread jihadi values and the uncompromising worldview of these groups.

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Why is it important?

This article sheds light on an underestimated cultural product consumed by jihadists. It provides a greater understanding of the manipulative strategies used to spread the group’s worldview, its political culture, self-images, guiding myths, and the making of a jihadist identity. The messaging in poetry also reveals how jihadists legitimate, authenticate, and justify violence.


I hope that this article encourages other scholars interested in the field to investigate cultural artefacts further.

Kurstin Gatt
University of Malta

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Poetry as a communicative vehicle in the jihadi milieu: the case for modern extremist poetry, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, March 2021, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/13530194.2021.1891521.
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