Wingless in Gaza

Doubtless it will come as something of a relief to hear that for a while I have had little to say. Or, at least, little to blog about. Recently, I have written about the juxtaposition of Guy Fawkes and religion elsewhere, pointing out that a predisposition for violence and destruction is not confined to cave-dwellers in the mountains of Northern Waziristan, but surfaces in historical narrative with the frequency of facial boils.
It came as a surprise to hear a piece on the World Service today about a man with a trip-hammer intellect, rated as one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world. Naïf Al-Mutawa is a psychologist and entrepreneur, who also happens to be a friend’s boss. The voice was remarkably young-sounding, attractive and articulate, Obama in a dishdasha, almost. He is the creative intellect behind “The 99” comics where interfaith dialogue reaches new heights as the ’99’ superheroes named after the names of Allah collaborate, share superpowers and problem-solve the Islamic way with the likes of Superman and Batman,  giving the bad guys a hiding. Excellent, stylish, conceptually almost brilliant and apart from a rather Charlton Heston look about the characters, very timely. Fresh eyes frequently bring enlightenment to otherwise jaded palates, and apart from a little local difficulty with the Saudis for whom such frivolity verges on the blasphemous, the concept has marketing wings, it would seem.
“I insisted on the relationship starting out as distrust between both sides of superheroes,” Al-Mutawa said. “The characters will realize that their mutual suspicions empower the real nemesis. “It will only be through trust that the bad guys are going to be beaten.”
Impressive spin indeed. It does seem rather a shame that Hamas and all the rest of the lunatic fringe seem not to read many comics.

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