EGYPT: holidays extras ((updated version):
bombed or shot down tourist airplane; bullets fired at tourist bus; attackers with knifes in Red Sea beach hotel…
Of course the iconic silhouette of Egypt could be replace by that of Tunisia, Syria, Yemen, Mali…
Exclusive mass-mobility for the affluent (a relative economic term, a lower middle class person can be “rich” elsewhere) always had it’s side-effects. The targetting of tourists is not an ISIS invention, it is a constant since the beginning of organised leisure travel. Mass-media combined with the new form of low-fare mass-travel do give it another dimension. What it lays bare as well is the economic structures of countries under attack, the problem of their (growing) dependancy on tourism, the social-economic division in the tourists countries themselves, those that profit, those that suffer. The impact on culture, habitat and environment geared to produce short-term profits.
We may well also consider reflecting on what makes up the demand & supply of the tourist industry. How dissatisfied are those mass-tourists with their local environment and life…. why it is that they like to play ‘king’ elsewhere, while abiding with their social status at home. Is the last thing not a deep structural meaning of the whole phenomenon of tourism, or is there also a genuine interest in how people live elseweher? The luxury “high security” (sic) ghettos of our days, which most of the mass-destination tourist resorts are, answer the last question.
If there is a vision on tourism of those who are trying to establish a new caliphate under the reign of ISIS-leaders is not clear to me, or it must be a special tour to the remaining debris of historical monuments blasted and looted by the troops of the new caliphate.
This brings to mind the observation that many of ‘historical monuments’ have been erected on the fundaments of preceding cultures, religions and reigns, with the reuse of older materials in newqer constructions. The academic term for this is ‘spolia’. Examples are the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount in Jeruzalem (an almagate of building materials originating from times of Judaism, Roman rule, Crusaders ending up as a mosque under Umayyad Caliphs in the 7th century), the Cathedral and/or Mosque of Cordoba (starting off as a Roman temple for the god Janus, turned into an early Christian church by the Visigoths in the 6th century, changed into a great mosque by the exiled muslim rulers from damuscus the Umayyafs in the 8th century and becoming a christian church once more after teh Reconquista of Islam Spain in 1236). The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was at first a Greek Orthodox cathedral, until it’s reconstruction as a mosque by Sultan Mehmed II in 1453.
Now Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) with their declaration of a new caliphate see temselves treading in the footsteps of other great Muslim conquerors, one of the most famous being the beforementioned Sultan Mehmed II, who as far as destruction of historical monuments of infidels go, did the opposite… he just recycled a Byzantine christian cathadral into a mosque. Would that mean that The Hagia Sophia (now a Turkish state museum) will become the future destination for a new form of caiphate tourism of the ‘umah’ travelling en masse to Istanbul…. The excerpt form a recent article on how some Turks see their realtionship to ISIS explains this idea…
Al-Monitor, a well established Middle East news source, published an article on November the 14th 2014 under the header”Turks increasingly sympathetic to Islamic State”, from which I take the following quotation:
“The caliphate is not a recent issue for some Muslims in Turkey. A global Islamic organization, Hizb ut-Tahrir, which was established in 1953 and has branches in 50 countries, has been openly calling for a caliphate. In an interview with Al-Monitor, Mahmut Kar, the head of Hizb ut-Tahrir’s media relations in Turkey, explained in detail not only how his organization views IS’ decision to declare a caliphate but also its own struggle for a caliphate.
Kar said, “[Hizb ut-Tahrir] was established in 1960 in Turkey and when we started speaking about the caliphate in 1967 it was the first time the word had been brought back into Turkish public space since 1924. Once the idea of a caliphate was out in the open again, Islamist movements in line with the Muslim Brotherhood started emerging in Turkey.”
He (Mahmut Kar tj.) emphasized that for the “ordinary” Muslim and non-Muslim the association of the caliphate with IS has been detrimental. “As the world is leery of IS violence, the caliphate is now associated with blood,” Kar said. Yet, for those who had been living with the dream of revival of the caliphate, IS could be a promise.
Even when ISIS blasts away the Haia Sophia because of its christian origins, it may well become a destination for another – growing – part of tourist ondustry: ‘disaster toruism’ also called ‘dark tourism’. Apart from the Great Chinese Wall (which has the skeletons of generations of enslaved labourers in its fundaments) despotism draws great crowds, be it the Nazi KZ’s, the Gulag, or the Red Khmer execution fields….