Birmingham expert’s documentary explores links between terrorism and Shakespeare


A Birmingham expert has presented a documentary exploring how terrorists including Osama Bin Laden developed a hatred of Shakespeare.

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

The BBC Radio 3 programme Shakespeare and Me looked at how the playwright’s work had influenced those behind terror plots.

Dr Islam Issa, a senior lecturer in English Literature at Birmingham City University, presented the documentary which followed the Bard’s links to the Gunpowder Plot through to modern day terror attacks.

Documents released last year by the CIA revealed Bin Laden had made visits to Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Others with links to the Bard in the documentary include Abraham Lincoln’s assassin John Booth, who was influenced by the murder of the emperor in Julius Caeser.

Dr Issa said: “There are lots of violent and extreme moments in the plays that remind us of what we see in the news today.

“Not only did Shakespeare live through the biggest terrorist plot in British history – the Gunpowder Plot – he also constructed characters who have similar issues, mind-sets and justifications to modern-day terrorists.

“The terrorists who hated Shakespeare or who attacked theatres saw the playwright as a symbol of the West or of colonialism. But looking at it from another angle, some terrorists have also been inspired by him.”


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