Friday, December 04, 2009

Cyber Jihadis' Lord of the Rings Obsession

Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Witch-King of Egypt

In my research on Islamist artwork and visual media, I have surprisingly discovered that some cyber jihadi dorks are just as obsessed with J.R.R. Tolkien's classic series The Lord of the Rings as some non-jihadi dorks. They view themselves, with one exception, not as the forces of the dark lord Sauron and his wizard ally Saruman, but as the Fellowship and its allies in Gondor, Rohan, and the Elven kingdoms. Well, at least they're not Star Wars dorks...

The latest hilarious example of this obsession is found in the completely ridiculous and laughable work of Reality Media Center, a Lahore, Pakistan-based anti-Shi'i takfiri media outlet. Takfir is an Arabic term describing the practice of declaring other Muslims to be "apostates." The center is responding to a humorous post by Prof. Jarret Brachman in which the specialist on movements compares cyber jihadis (or, as he calls them, "jihobbyists") to Orcs, the creatures that make up the bulk of Sauron's armies in The Lord of the Rings.

Abu Yahya al-Libi's pinky ring

Brachman embedded a video from the extended edition of The Two Towers, and the center's takfiris have responded by using horribly funny (in an embarrassing way) voice-overs with a scene taken from the extended edition of The Return of the King. Specifically, they use the scene where the Fellowship, with the exception of Frodo and Sam, confront the Mouth of Sauron, the dark lord's lieutenant Barad-dûr, at the Black Gate. View it for yourself:

The actual scene is:

The Mouth of Sauron

I have posted twice previously about cyber jihadis' use of The Lord of the Rings in their artwork and visual media HERE and HERE.

"The Victorious Sect," with jihadi Nazgul with the black flag emblazoned with the Muslim testament of faith (shahada) that is used, in several styles, by transnational jihadi-Salafis worldwide.

Nazgul chase Arwen at the river

Jihadi Elves face hordes of Orcs from Mordor at the great battle "on the slopes of Mount Doom" that begins the first film, The Fellowship of the Ring. This battlefield becomes the Dead Marshes.

Battle on the Slopes of Mount Doom

Jihadi Rohirrim (Riders of Rohan) charging at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields before the great spiral city of Gondor, Minas Tirith, in The Return of the King.

Rohirrim charge with King Theoden at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields

UPDATE (3:35 P.M., December 5): See Prof. Brachman's response to the silly video by Reality Media HERE.


Michael Collins Dunn said...

Very weird. Just linked to it at the MEI Editor's Blog, thanks to a link from The Arabist:

Michael Collins Dunn said...

Oh, and you've been blogrolled at the MEI Editor's Blog.

إبن الصقلي said...

Dr. Dunn,

Thanks very much for both. It's very flattering, particularly for an avid reader of The Middle East Journal and other MEI publications.

Charles Cameron (hipbone) said...

Doing some catch-up here --

(i) Marisa Urgo has a piece that links with this one, and gives a link to an interesting exploration of Tolkien's Catholicism.

(ii) There's also a Sufi / Perennialist book on Tolkien, apparently -- I doubt this would be much in vogue among the salafi-jihadists, but Daveed Gartenstein-Ross mentions it in his memoir, My Year Inside radical Islam -- Mahmoud Shelton's Alchemy in Middle-Earth: The Significance of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

As Ecclesiastes saith: "Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh..."

My list of books to read grows longer...

إبن الصقلي said...

Hi Charles,

Thanks very much for the link and book information. Indeed, Ugo's post is interesting. I appreciate your insights and recommendations.