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Killing An Arab by The Cure

Album: Boys Don't CryReleased: 1978
  • This song is about someone who has killed an Arab on a beach and is thinking about it in retrospect, observing the body.
  • This was inspired by Albert Camus' book The Stranger (also known as The Outsider). It is not a racist song, but still caused a lot of controversy because many people assumed so because of the title. The book deals with existentialism, and the title "Killing An Arab" was taken from a passage where the main character thinks about the emptiness of life after killing a man on a beach.

    Camus published The Stranger in 1942. In 1957, he won the Nobel Prize for literature. He died in 1960 at age 46.
  • The title of The Cure singles collection Starring At The Sea is also a reference to this passage in Camus' book.
  • This was the Cure's first single. It was released on an independent label called Small Wonder. Six months later, it was re-released when they signed with Fiction Records.
  • Arab groups protested this song because of the title. For The Cure, it wasn't worth the trouble to defend it so they asked radio stations to stop playing it. At the time, any music considered controversial could get you on lists created by conservative groups who would then pressure radio stations not to play your songs and stores not to sell your music.
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Comments: 11

That first singles compilation, covering the period from Three Imaginary Boys through The Head on the Door, had 2 different names, depending on the format that you bought. The CD, the only one of those formats that is still in wide use, and the collection of videos were titled Staring at the Sea, while the vinyl LP and cassette versions were called Standing on a Beach, also from this song. LP version was shortest, containing a few less songs than the CD, while the cassette contained the same songs as the LP plus all of the B-sides from the standard singles.Anne - Sanilac County, Mi
actually shoshona, a jihad is not a holy war. Jihad simply means "struggle".Eli - Spring Lake, Nc
Snatch.. this song was out for SOOOO long before any of the resulting dumb incidents took place. It was always a good song.. its a commentary on the people receiving it rather than the artist who wrote it..Jeff - Atlanta, Ga
Snatchworth you are basing that on today's atmosphere. In 1978 the attitude, particularly in England, was completely different and I don't think it was considered controversial at all.Louise - Southport, England
by the way a fatwah is not a holy war sir ignorant. a fatwa is actually an arabic law. a jihad is a holy war. you use these words in the wrong context. it's so called in alaska. And Killing An Arab was re-released. no one i know listening to 'kissing an arab'.Shoshona - Tennant Creek, Australia
no no no. none of what you are saying matters. you miss the point. anyway killing an arab isn't excellent. it's stolen from camus. it's undeveloped and limp. you are all limp.Shoshona - Tennant Creek, Australia
When friends of mine took an airport taxi after landing in Cairo in 1983 it was playing on the radio.

Jake, Brussels
Jacob - Brussels, Belgium
Umm,the compilation is calling "StaRing At The Sea" ,not staRRing, one R.Jenny - Hereford, England
The Cure puts a disclaimer on their Starring At The Sea album claiming this is not a racist song and is sorry if it offends anyone.Roger - Los Angeles, Ca
Covered by the Electric Hellfire Club on Cleopatra's Cure tribute record... significantly changing the implications of the song away from it's existentialist origins to an almost literal translation of the song title... complete with Jerky Boys' Tarbash voice samples.. "You do not treat my people like this!"Vince - Florence, Ky
Maybe I'm being cynical, but I think Robert Smith knew full well that this song would be controversial because of the title. Like the old saying goes, "any publicity is good publicity".Snatchworth - Seattle, Wa