Sunday, September 14, 2014

From Orwell to Al Qaida

George Orwell's "Homage to Catalonia" (1938) is an interesting read. For a book written before WW-2, it has a very contemporary feel, especially at a time when the Western press is full of indignant outrage about the wholehearted participation of their own citizens in Al Qaida and ISIS.

A few days ago ISIS brutally beheaded the second US journalist it had captured in Iraq / Syria. The executioner had given his two bits about Jihad in British accented English with a dagger flashing in one hand.

Osama bin Laden and his deputies may have lived in caves, dodged smart-bombs and married local women in Afghanistan. Orwell, on the other hand, went to fight his Jihad against fascist dictators in a more relaxed manner. He sailed across the Straits of Gibraltar with his wife to the Catalan coast, lodged her comfortably at the Continental Hotel in Barcelona, and then got himself enrolled in a local militia called the POUM.

After ten months in the trenches, he came away with a nasty wound. A sniper had shot him clean through the neck, damaging his vocal chords and missing his jugular by a millimeter. So he returns to Barcelona, recuperates, does a bit of street-fighting, picks his wife from the hotel, drives across the border to France, and to safety.

What was Mrs. Orwell doing for 10 months in the Barcelona while her husband was away on the front? Who paid the bills? The book is less than eloquent about all this and more.

If some the 'foreign fighters' in Al Qaida or ISIS got around to writing their own stories, I guess it would not be very different from 'Homage to Catalonia'.


* Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) 
* Book -- PrintAsia 
* Wiki --
* Fighting a war in the neighborhood - Turks in ISIS / Syria -- 

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