In the business of theology it is hard not to be controversial - Jurgen Moltmann

Thursday, 28 July 2005

Why Egypt? 伊斯蘭教徒跟伊斯蘭國家有甚麼仇厚?(expanded edition)

【本文原為上一篇『Why London?』之下的其中一段回應,回答吾友Dot的疑問:「點解佢地要炸埃及?」當時沒時間慢慢打中文,草草成(英)文。貼出之後又覺得都唔錯,現稍 作補充修定,賦予正統地位,以免埋藏在回應堆中,浪費掉。我寫野咁好,應該俾多D人讀丫嘛,嘻嘻!】

Why Egypt?

First of all, we have to understand that 'terrorism' is ultimately senseless. There are no fixed patterns, no specified 'objectives' (in our sense of 'project or business objectives'). The only and most obvious things that are close to 'objectives' are: 1. to ventilate their anger; 2. to scare the hell out of their opponent, hoping that the opponent would yield to what they ask for in the long run (or even immediately, as in the case of Madrid train bombing 2004).

Second, we have to appreciate the complexity of the Middle East and Arab World. Far from being a homogenious region, there are diversed interests politically, economically, and religiously. The unity and brotherhood of all Muslims is only imaginary. It has never been realised ever since the beginning of Islam. (Islam as a religion emerged from a state of bloody internal war!) To make things more complex, the Middle East is a region where religion and politics are messily intermingled together.

In the eyes of Islamic fundamentalists, the government of Egypt is a traitor of 'true Islam' -- its political stance is too friendly to the west, its relationship with Israel (the number one enemy of the Arabs) is too close. So are the rulers of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE阿聯猶). Thus, it should not be a surprise that the 'true Muslims' (fundamentalists) would want to teach them a lesson once in a while.

While the attack is on Egypt, please remember that it occurs at a tourist spot (similar to the Bali explosion in Indonesia). It aims at teaching the western-friendly Muslim government a lesson, to scare the shit out of western & Israeli visitors, and to threaten the economic activities (tourism) of the country.

What message does Al Qaeda want to deliver to the world? I would say that they want to tell the whole world (western, Arab, everybody) that they are still around & active, that you cannot track them down so easily, that they are more witty than you are. They want to tell those who imagine they are in control (USA, UK, etc) that the Arab Muslim fundamentalists are not going to let the western powers have their way.

Of course, I am not an expert in these things at all. Far from it. But I do know something about religious fundamentalism of the 3 great monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) -- which, together, are contributing to a great portion of troubles in today's world. And the above is my informed speculation.

Religious fundamentalism (基要主義/原教旨主義) is a complex phenomenon. Any attempt to explicate it in a few paragraphs in unfair.

For a not-so-simple but comprehensive introduction to religious fundamentalisms (notice the plural!), I recommend: Karen Armstrong The Battle for God (2001). Great telling of history, good presentation of lots of facts, though you don't have to totally buy in to the interpretation of facts by this brilliant ex-catholic-nun. (For example, perhaps due to my background, and also due to my somewhat insider's knowledge, I am not totally comfortable with her putting all theologically conservative Christian institutions under the 'fundamentalist' umbrella. Just as many outsiders, she cannot distinguish between Evangelicals and Fundamentalists, which are in fact two widely different camps.)

For an in-depth and massive scholarly study on fundamentalisms, one may like to look at the 'fundamentalism project' (5 huge volumes, 1994-2004) by Martin Marty et al. (I have to confess that I have never read them; only seen them. Too massive! Just like 5 telephone directories!)


sf said...

既然咁好,應該俾多D人讀, 不如在methodist會訊登出來啦!

Yam 飲者 said...


Dot said...

任者, 我都覺得你寫野真係幾唔錯架
特別你的打油文采, 堪稱一絕!!

Yam 飲者 said...

不過我當然知道自己的寫作對諸位有勉勵作用啦 -- 肯定可以督促你們努力,以免重滔我的覆切,不要寫得如此膚淺嘛。