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Inside the Mind of the Taliban
Poetry of the Taliban
08 Oct 2012
18.45 - 20.00
The Taliban are synonymous with the war in Afghanistan. Doughty, uncompromising fighters, they plant IEDs, deploy suicide bombers and wage guerrilla warfare. While much has been written about their military tactics, media strategy and harsh treatment of women, the cultural and sometimes less overtly political representation of their identity, the Taliban's other face, is often overlooked.
Criticised by many as mere propaganda, Poetry of the Taliban offers an unfettered insight into the wider worldview of the Afghan Taliban, one that can tell us more about Afghanistan than any number of news reports. The contrast between the severity of their ideology and the Taliban's long-standing poetic tradition is nothing short of remarkable. Unrequited love, vengeance, the thrill of battle, religion and nationalism - even a yearning for non-violence - are expressed through images of wine, powerful women and pastoral beauty, providing a fascinating insight into the hearts and minds of these redoubtable adversaries.
The panel will consist of Poetry of the Taliban editors, Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn who have worked in Afghanistan since 2006 and are well-known commentators on major Western news channels. Jason Elliot, a travel writer, whose works include Mirrors of the Unseen: Journeys in Iran and An Unexpected Light: Travels in Afghanistan, which is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential books on Afghanistan. The chair of the discussion will be writer, lecturer and broadcaster Kenan Malik whose most recent book is From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and its Legacy. They comprise an excellently-placed group to offer insight into this fascinating and controversial subject.