Lord of the Rings and “Cyber Jihadis”

Ok, this is probably the most odd-ball post I’ve yet done, but yesterday I was looking for images of the Rohirrim charge in LOTR Return of the King, and one of the ones provided by Google Images landed me on an old post from a very active blog maintained by Christopher Anzalone, called لآراء من الغرب Views from the Occident.  His most recent post is on an article he has just published in African Arguments on “Who Are Somalia’s ‘Al-Shabab?'”, recently mentioned in Der Spiegel.   I have next to no background in the topics he’s discussing, so those more knowledgeable than I can weigh in and assess, but this looks like fascinating stuff.

The post that actually caught my eye is from 2009, and is entitled “Cyber Jihadis’ Lord of the Rings Obsession,” and is a very detailed (as in video and visuals) discussion of an active, anti-Shi’i group in Pakistan that was (is still?) using LOTR imagery to show their fight against the unfaithful, the apostate, and I guess the enemies of the faith in general, though I’m not entirely sure about that. So, video clips and stills from the films are reworked, showing the Rohirrim as Jihadi Rohirrim, the Elves at the first battle as Jihadi Elves, and so on.  I have no particular comment one way or another (see the last sentence of the first paragraph), but since we hear a lot these days about Western imperialist racism in Tolkien’s LOTR, this stuff seems to be a window into how LOTR can be used in non-Western societies.  And apparently, from one of the comments on the post, there’s a Sufi book on Tolkien as well, so our discussion can definitely benefit from broadening out.

Food for thought…