There is a preponderance of evidence to support the hypothesis that Egypt is run by a bunch of morons. The latest evidence is the decision by the Egyptian government to ban the blockbuster Matrix Reloaded for “explicit religious content.”

Egyptian officials topped all comers in their demonstration of ignorance. If these guys were American, we’d be able to write about them for the rest of our days without ever getting bored or concerned about rehashing the same story over and over.

The Egyptian government relies on a “film committee” to determine what is fit for public cinema consumption. This committee has 15 members that allegedly hold positions as writers, scholars, scientists and psychologists to bear this patriarchal burden.

They held that the violent scenes had the potential to “harm social peace.” Let’s take the obvious objection by stating that anyone who starts doing kung fu in the streets of Cairo isn’t going to be on the streets of Cairo for very long. Next, they made the ridiculous assertion that the city of Zion in the movie reflects Zionist ideology and the Israeli state. If this is true then the word “hell” can be derived from “hello” and all greetings should be declared illegal.

It’s just that stupid. And it gets worse.

The committee concedes that the movie is great eye candy citing the “high technology and fabulous visual effects.” However, “[I]t explicitly handles the issue of existence and creation, which are related to the three divine religions, which we all respect.”

Three divine religions? Judaism, Islam and Christianity are the only three religions deserving respect? What about Buddhism, Hindu, Zoroastrianism, Sikhism or Jainism along with a few dozen Eastern Asian religions? These are all “divine” religions practiced by hundreds of millions of people today and certainly deserving of respect. The only remaining thread that Judaism, Islam and Christianity have in common is the creation myth. Is that what warrants everyone’s respect?

What is the Egyptian government talking about and what does it have to do with Matrix Reloaded?

Objecting to this movie on the grounds that it “supports Zionist policy” is probably the most annoying aspect of this edict. It shows that the Egyptian leadership is lacking the sophistication and IQ points to spin the Matrix Reloaded into justification for a continuing jihad against Israel. Consider the following:

  • Aliens take over earth. Jews occupy Palestine—or whatever the Arabs think that the Jews are doing.
  • Humans struggle against the occupation. Palestinians struggle against the occupation—or whatever the Arabs think that the Jews are doing.
  • Aliens try to assassinate key human resistance fighters. Jews try to assassinate key Palestinian resistance fighters–or whatever the Arabs think that the Jews are doing.
  • Humans envision a future where they remove the aliens and rule earth again. Palestinians envision a future where they remove the Jews and rename Israel to whatever the Arabs think it should be called.
  • Enterprising Egyptian officials would take this concise analysis of Matrix Reloaded and its comparison to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, go to Kinko’s and supply professional, high quality propaganda to their Islamic movie-goers.

    They could really spin this movie into oblivion by saying that the directors are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and use the term “Zion” as a smokescreen for Nablus. The name gets bonus points for being easy to spell.

    The lesson here is that Egyptian officials need to start turning potential problems into great opportunities as the US and British governments are so keenly adept at doing. Beyond that, they should start giving people some credit for behaving themselves and open up their society. Islam is a rich and well-developed religion. Islam can withstand a debate on religion and hear modern takes on existence and creation. It has nothing to fear from an open society.

    Only Egyptian officials need to fear an open society.

    Since the first movie played in 1999, it has been an intellectual sport to discuss the religious elements of the Matrix universe. Most people that attempt such comparisons are usually focused on Christianity and not very coherent. Few people know about their own religion let alone anyone else’s. With years of experience exploring different religions in this world, I could compose plausible relationships between this movie and each religion on the planet.

    I personally find the Matrix universe to be laden with elements of Buddhism because—surprise, surprise, mofo surprise—I’m Buddhist. There’s a message in there somewhere.

    The bottom line is that the Matrix Reloaded is a movie and nothing more.

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