After the effect of the Tunisian anti-power virus medicine began to be felt, it will now have to quickly find vaccines to fight smaller emerging viruses disguised in religious thought. By doing so, this nascent new consciousness may find an adequate exit way towards life.
There is no doubt that the immune system of the Tunisian society is well equipped to avoid falling in the trap of the religious delirium. This immunity and predisposition may have various reasons among them its fifty-year foundation on a system comparatively close to Western secularism. Let us not forget, in this respect, that Tunisian women have enjoyed over a long period of time many civil rights and liberties that are still denied to their counterparts in virtually all Arab countries. This fact, in itself, strengthened the country’s immunity against the religious infectious fungus. Besides, Tunisia’s geographical location and its proximity to Europe and the presence of a large Tunisian diaspora on that continent, the cultural exchange and encounters established between them for several reasons, and last but not least the mutual economic interest Tunisia shares with France; all these factors made of Tunisia an inaccessible and difficult road before the infiltration of fundamentalist religious thought. The Tunisians are less exposed than many other Arab countries to the risk of falling for autocratic rule founded in the sharia of the conquest and subjection of individuals.
Tunisia has not yet completed its fight for life and the fight of its life. But it managed to export its prevalence over the invisible boundaries of fear to other Arab countries. The Tunisian domino effect has kicked off in Egypt, notwithstanding the differences that characterize Egypt and mainly its exposure to the influence of organized Islamic thought, deeply rooted in the social fabric and openly seeking to extend its grip to gain a wider political power. Despite all these set backs, we all have to support any revolutionary movement regardless of its final outcomes and at the same time brace ourselves for any potential attack from the religious virus.
Before we ask questions about what will happen next or about the unknown destiny of the angry masses, we need to think about more pressing concerns that are more obvious and already visible. These revolts are taking place in a context of high religious sentiment. Islamic movements will most certainly grab any chance to ride the wave of popular protest. There is no difference between them, in that respect, and leeches which feed on the blood of the people. They are no different from the rulers of this part of the world. They will trade off the checks of security and decent life without any earthly reserves in their accounts, and transform them into otherworldly ones, ready to punish whomever wishes to take back his or her lost self.
Perhaps it is high time for diverse forces to join together, regardless of their different religious convictions and beliefs. What might bring them together is an overwhelming desire and a powerful dream of a new earthly future. Perhaps it is now time to put together a carefully thought-out strategy to fight back and curb religious thought without hesitation or compromises.
It does not matter whether visions and solutions are the same or not. What matters is the final result and objective that all humanity strives for. In the words of Buddhists, “we can take different roads to reach the mountain top, and when we get there, we finally see all roads and paths from the same perspective.”
It is for this reason that I believe we need to concern ourselves, first of all, with the aim of finding a new social and economic program that puts the interest of individuals above all other considerations, and then think about the general good beyond religious and ethnic affiliations. This program may be the best prevention against the stern Islamic cancer supported by Saudi oil money.
There is no doubt that there are many other factors, which allowed this deeply rooted cancerous formation to grow and constitute a firm ground in the psyches of wretched, hungry nations that have been suffering for many centuries from wars, colonization and oppression and which are now suffering from a gaping intellectual vacuum that religion compensates for with tickling sweet and rosy dreams and promises.
There is no doubt also that those Islamist organizations are very good at ordering and recruiting their members, and at deploying the negative psychological scars endured by these oppressed nations over centuries to secure their interests and those of their religious leaders who are the first benefactors of such social formations. And of course, Islamist organizations thrive under the umbrella of oppressive and corrupt states that usurped all liberties from their people and gave them nothing in return other than ruins and economic bankruptcy. The combination of these factors made of the countries of the region an open easy field for the cultivation of religious poison. It is very easy for these religious organizations to wear the mantle of purity, virtue and decency, and to mislead nations with empty promises of a better future. Not only that, but they also tickle popular dreams about the bygone days of Islamic Awakening, an epoch of plenty, affluence, enjoyment and happiness. The dreamers are promised an empty victory over everything and everyone.
These socio-political religious organizations know very well and with great mastery how to strike the right psychological note that can move individuals. They know very well to what extent the peoples of the region are driven by a great yearning to a psychological victory to make up for their long centuries of defeat.
I think that we need to expose such instances where history is deliberately twisted and misread. We need to draw attention to the real causes of this celebrated Islamic awakening, which was not the outcome of the cultural influence of the Arabic peninsula. This advanced stage of civilization was achieved during the reign of the Umayyad and Abbasids. The latters’ achievements were the culmination of various and diverse civilizations, which predate the emergence of Islam across the Middle East, including Egypt. Therefore, this awakening was the outcome of diverse cultures mixing together. As we know, religions are a cultural product that cannot transcend the norms and values of its immediate environment.
Fundamentalist Islamist thought managed to recruit a nucleus of marginalized individuals and to revive the memory of jihad among susceptible minds to compose a chorus of suicidal souls all ready and looking forward to death and killing at the same time. There is no doubt that the right to commit suicide remains an individual ‘right’ or choice but claiming a ‘right’ to kill is a crime against humanity.
In order to stand against this notion, I think that we need to reconcile ourselves with the idea of death when life becomes almost non-existent. In the shadow of cruel and unbearable living conditions, we need to revisit the ways of the Japanese samurai, when compelled to choose death over life in times of crises. When the options of life and death are weighted equally, the samurai needs to choose death with wisdom and courage.
When we overcome the anxiety of death, we can face up to all that stands in the way of life with more firmness. We need to be flexible with all strategies and we need to be able to change our tactics according to changing circumstances and environments.
I firmly believe in a strategy based on organization, will, dexterity and sharpness in choosing the right discourse that appeals to the psyche of our societies with intellectual flexibility and a readiness to adopt ways without egotistic motivations. Such tactics can be the best way to curb the Islamists.
I wish to conclude this article with the words of Chinese military strategists Sun Tzu. “The concepts of victory and loss were not the outcome of pure randomness, nor are they the craft of a divine or spiritual intervention. They are the outcome of choice, the choice of one strategy over another. Good strategic foundations can only lead to victory.”