Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: The trend of fanaticism and fear in Egypt and Kuwait | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A picture taken on January 2, 2014 shows a Telecoms giant Vodafone advert featuring the puppet Abla (Aunt) Fahita on computer screens in the Egyptian capital Cairo. Egyptian prosecutors are probing Telecoms giant Vodafone over claims a company advert featuring a popular muppet-like character contains coded messages calling for terrorist attacks, company executives said. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI

Do you think Abla Fahita was tortured while being interrogated? Do you think she willingly confessed her involvement in a conspiracy where she secretly conveyed coded messages to terrorists in a TV advertisement? And how did the ‘evil’ Muslim Brotherhood manage to expand its terrorism to the extent of exploiting puppets?

We’ve been asking these questions as we both laughed and cried while following the farce of the ‘terrorist’ Abla Fahita, a Muppet-like character used in commercials for the telecommunications company Vodafone.

It all came about after a public figure in Egypt accused the famous puppet of the TV ad plot. The funny part here is not only the accusation, but also the fact that Egyptian security took the allegation seriously, investigated it, then tried to turn what was a blatant joke into a national security issue. We can only congratulate the person whose rich imagination managed to inspire such collective delirium.

At the same time, a Kuwaiti member of parliament delivered a statement on TV voicing his anger and demanding that a so-called poetry master, Jalaluddin Al-Rumi, be banned from holding a reading so as not to corrupt the morals of women in the audience. The MP added: “We have no master but God,” and demanded that the poet be dealt with strictly.

I don’t want to believe that this representative of his country does not really know who the great poet Rumi is and in which century he lived. (He died in 1273.) Not only that, but this MP went on to demand that the poet, who has been dead for more than 700 years, be barred from entering the country!

Jokes aside, what does all this indicate? It seems that fear has become a phobia, inseparable from us. When I say fear, I don’t mean that fear we feel when we watch on TV the atrocities committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or by the Syrian regime, or the fear that arises from hearing about the explosions in Iraq and Lebanon. Rather, it’s the panic we feel when we realize our minds are being destroyed in preparation for the killing of our body.

Yes, we are witnessing what resembles the death of the revolutions that three years ago gave us such hope. This ‘execution’ is being carried out by two fanatical parties: one is religious and another military. This fundamentalism aims to deform our minds and make us crazy through the demonization of a puppet and the proliferation of ignorance, as demonstrated by a representative of the public.