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The Ikhwan’s shortcut to power

Apr 21,2012 - Last updated at Feb 06,2018

The plot of the 2004 movie “Shortcut to Happiness”, which I watched recently, goes like this: Jabez Stone is a complete loser; he is not able to sell his novels; he lives in a lousy apartment and does not have success with women. Stone sells his soul to the devil for success. The secret contract is signed when the devil sleeps with Stone. Suddenly, his low-quality novels have bad reviews but become best sellers; Stone enriches, has success with women, but has no time for his real friends.

For me, the movie was an example of great failure. It is of direct nature, lacks suspense and most of its scenes are predictable. Though it is labelled “comedy”, “drama” and “fantasy”, I felt it was another boring story of American commercial “magical reality”. But what caught my thoughts is its moral message.

Gaining success regardless of what road leads to it or what content it produces is a shortcut to something else. This is an old and repetitive lesson. Why should it catch my thoughts?

Obviously, the linkage between the movie’s message and the political context of the Arab world is what I care more about. The Middle East is witnessing a similar “magical reality” performance.

The increasing support the Islamists and the Muslim Brothers (Ikhwan in Arabic) are receiving, whether from the US or from certain Arab circles, in the ongoing political game is a familiar drama. They are offered a shortcut to political power, regardless of the outcome.

The realpolitik of the current political scene in the Arab world is magically controlled by a “relipolitik” coalition, a term that I coined to refer to a pragmatic coalition of representatives of religions and of politics.

For the basic players in the Middle East, whether the US, Israel, Turkey, Iran or Russia, the “Arab Spring” represents a shortcut to more hegemony over the Arab region.

Ikhwanisation of political ruling governments, or giving Muslim Brothers alone more powers in the Arab world, is a direct and clear attempt to sell a low-quality novel of commercial magical reality.

First, this novel does not talk about the real needs and aspirations of the peoples of the region.

The main articles of the secret contract do not include any talk about the public interest. The novel’s language is not of high literary, philosophical, educational or even religious richness.

Second, hacking a whole context for the benefit of one or few parties is a misleading attempt to give popular legitimacy to those new governors. Religions are not tools for political control. They are structures for life and for the high interest of human beings.

Towards the end of “Shortcut to Happiness”, Stone realises his wrongdoing and tries to escape the contract and regain his life and real friends. He succeeds. But that is fiction. In the realities of the Arab world, this is not applicable.

I do not subscribe to the conspiracy theories some think are behind what is going on. The “Arab Spring” stopped. It is the shortcuts everyone is running through that are going to shape the new episode of Middle East politics. And shortcuts are not real paths to healthy being.

Using the language of computers, a “shortcut” to a file opens the original file. Using the language of relipolitik, a “shortcut” to power opens the gates of the unknown.

The writer is a media strategist, interfaith and intercultural specialist. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.


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