Syrian poet opposed to president is killed by Islamic State extremists

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A Syrian poet and his son have been killed by the extremist group calling itself Islamic State (IS), the writers pressure group Pen International has reported. According to media reports, Mohammad Bashir al-Aani and his son Elyas were captured after a funeral and accused of “apostasy”, rights groups said. Mohammad Bashir al-Aani had published three volumes of poems and was known for his lyrical style and opposition to the government of President Bashar al-Assad, PEN International said.

The poet, who was in his mid-50s, and his son were seized several months ago in their home town of Deir ez-Zor, where they had returned to bury Aani’s wife after she died in a Damascus hospital. They were held with around 100 others before being killed, local media and rights groups reported.

Salil Tripathi, chair of PEN International’s writers in prison committee, said: “We are shocked and deeply saddened by reports that Mohammad Bashir al-Aani and his son Elyas were murdered by the militant group Islamic State which had accused them of ‘apostasy’. The deliberate murder of civilians during an armed conflict is a war crime and both those who commit them and those who order them must be brought to justice.”

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Laura Taylor

Mon 21st Mar 2016 13:34

Thanks both.

C Byrne

Mon 21st Mar 2016 10:56

A fitting tribute Laura

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Greg Freeman

Sat 19th Mar 2016 05:13

I found your initial comment - saying that you had no words - very powerful and moving, Laura. That you were then able to find the words with your poem is admirable and remarkable. Thank you.

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Laura Taylor

Fri 18th Mar 2016 16:41

For Mohammad

in a hot place a hot scribe writes fire
fears no evil
sits with a lit cigarette
bears an innocuous pen and makes marks;
page imprints in oppositional ink

not a bullet, gun, or bomb
not a sniper, missile,
or suicidal child
not dictating
only writing

in a hot place a hot scribe sets fire to ideas
fears no evil
leaves a phoenix to rise from rebellious ashes
the colour of courage
and faith

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M.C. Newberry

Fri 18th Mar 2016 14:45

The fear of words that marks such brutality only makes
us understand the primitive desperation for "control" that
drives these deeds.

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Laura Taylor

Fri 18th Mar 2016 12:08

Whenever you might think you are really pushing the boundaries with a poem, that you're writing something incredibly inflammatory, and then read that our fellow poets are being murdered for brings you to your knees. I have no words to express the tumult of emotions that these killings create in me.

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