Anorak News | Swan Bake

Swan Bake

by | 23rd, November 2006

“HUNGER drove fasting Muslim to kill swan and bite into it raw.”

So says the headline in the Mail, an enticing prelude to a story which, on the face it, unites the paper’s triumvirate of pet themes – mad Muslims, bird flu and iffy food.

Reading on we learn of Shamshu Miah. It is the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and shortly after midnight on September 26 this year hungry Miah is near the boating lake in Llandudno. So too was a swan.

A man observes the goings on. He calls the police. And they apprehend Miah in the company of a dead swan in a carrier bag. The Sun spots white feathers in Miah’s beard.

The postmortem fails to conclude whether the swan has been bitten to death or stabbed with a knife.

Miah does not understand. “I’ve done nothing wrong,” says he. “It was just a bird to eat.”

And while he is sentenced to two months having admitted possession of a knife in public and wilfully killing a wild bird, we should consider what it is Miah has done wrong.

Judge Andrew Shaw tells Miah that killing the swan is a “taboo act”. The offing of the swan contravenes a strong social prohibition. Bangladesh-born Miah is being told: “We don’t do that sort of thing here.”

No we do not, at least not since the Queen took ownership of all swans and we started farming turkeys.

But swans are eaten. Anorak recalls the case of composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Master of the Queen’s Music, who on finding a dead swan on his Scottish property turned it into a “delicious terrine”.

Police took the carcass from non-Muslim Mr Davies’s freezer as well as the wings, which he had kept for a Sunday primary school to use as the Angel Gabriel’s wings in the annual nativity play.

Or Jibril, as a swan-eating Muslim driven half-mad by starvation would have it…

Posted: 23rd, November 2006 | In: Tabloids Comment | TrackBack | Permalink