Thursday, August 30, 2012

In the Name of Identity

In case you are wondering if you can beat the record of longest sexual intercourse ever, I can assure you that you can't. This is because the one I am going to write about here is longer than you can ever imagine. It started centuries before we were born, and it is lasting forever. And for sure you've witnessed parts of it, the two bastards involved here are shamelessly fucking each other on TV screens, on your twitter timeline, and in public locations such as churches, mosques, synagogues, parliaments and presidential palaces. Those two shameless bastards are called Politics and Religion.

Today, the Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was in Tehran attending the Non-Aligned Movement summit. I haven't listened to a recording of his speech there yet, but from what I've heard, it seems to have been a good one, and he said it was an "ethical duty" to support the Syrian people against the "oppressive regime" in Damascus.

What really alerts me is the reactions I've seen here during and after the speech. From, so-called, activists calling for receiving Morsi in the airport, to others writing poems praising Morsi. All of this is not because of some political actions he have done, or for any tangible advances in the Egyptian economy, education or healthcare. All this is because of that victorious moment when a Sunni politician goes to Iran, slap them in the face by praising some historic figures they - supposedly - cannot tolerate seeing them be praised. He opened his speech by praising God and some men who died centuries ago, wheres the Sunni Muslims in Egypt and in the Gulf States admire, and they believe that the Shia Muslims in Iran hate them like hell, and this was more than enough to create a Golden Calf out of Morsi for us to receive in the airport, and worship later on.

Coexist
Photo taken by Sonny Abesamis under CC-BY license.

In his book "In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong", Amin Maalouf wrote how we are obsessed with categorizing people according to their identities, "Since I left Lebanon in 1976 to establish myself in France, I have been asked many times, with the best intentions in the world, if I felt more French or more Lebanese". He then added, "When I am asked who I am deep inside of myself, it means there is, deep inside each one of us, one belonging that matters". And for many here, that one belonging is their religion, or even sect.

They define themselves according to that one identity. It is the castle they get into when fighting with others who belong to other identities. And it is the only way they seek personal victory through. Those who support Bashar when he oppresses the Sunnis in Syria and those who support the regime in Bahrain when it oppress the Shia there, both are obsessed with defending their belonging regardless of any morals. And those who support the oppressed party in one case, and turn a blind eye to the other are not much more ethical than the first group. Morsi, by the way, attacked the butchers in Syria and turned a blind eye to the ones in Bahrain today, let alone the Bahraini human rights activist whose was denied entry to Egypt a couple of days ago.

Aren't people sick of religious wars yet!? Aren't they sick already of those dictators who oppress their people in the name of religion, and fight their neighbors in the neme of it too?

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