The Ascension Jihad

- The nasty thing about the fundamentalist vision is that it works.
- The dark ages "worked" too.
Two syndicate mages discussing Egypt
In Egypt, the Ascension War is being fought with unrelenting ferocity. The Islamic Choristers are gaining ground, forcing the other traditions to conform or be attacked. The Technocracy tries to counteract them, but has so far not succeeded well enough and desperately seeks international support. They will stop at nothing to secure their power, just as their enemies.

The assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981 was the signal for the traditions to attack; while the less-than-loyal top level technomancers were purged the Shayks gathered their followers and began the struggle to overthrow western materialism and the current form of Egyptian government.

The fundamentalists are not relying just on violence; that is merely a tool. Even more important is their work on practical help to the sleepers. They show that the islamic organisations provide a much more reliable service than the inefficient government, making them a positive alternative. Make some government bureaucrats make a stupid decision (not very hard, usually no help is required), let an imam organize a local solution, and reap the profits.

One of the fatal mistakes made by the Technocracy was the Egyptian system of guaranteed work in the public sector for university graduates; the administration became bloated and it was not hard for the choristers to infiltrate the departments with people loyal to the true faith. This has given them a strong foothold in the administration, making it hard for the Technocracy to use their own tools without alerting the choristers.

The fundamentalists accept the existence of other traditions as long as they accept Islam and do not interfere with the struggle. This has led to a series of conflicts with the Coptic choristers, which the fundamentalists are pushing away more and more. The Ahl-I-Batin are regarded as too intellectual, and have in the past supported the Technocracy, so they have to either comply or be eradicated together with the technomancers. The other mages are regarded as no threat, just small groups who understand the value of lying low.

The Technocracy in the West has begun to realize the threat of fundamentalism in general, and have begun a large-scale propaganda campaign to make islamic fundamentalism the new evil enemy to fight (the Ivory Tower is reputedly very happy about this, since they dislike the loss of efficient adversary icons for mass manipulation after the fall of the Eastern Block).

Currently the battle is waged on several levels. The choristers seek to agitate the population against the government, while silencing dissident intellectuals and making attacks against targets of importance to the Technocracy (including tourism). The Technocracy does its best to track down and jail supporters and to secretly kill the choristers, while blackmailing the Ahl-I-Batin into helping them. The batini seek to avoid being forced by any group, usually by playing out them against each other, secretly helped by the Priestesses of Isis.

The Choristers main weakness is lack of information about the activities of the other awakened. They have a very widespread network of faithful sleepers; they will learn of anything that goes on in the mundane world eventually, especially strange events or the activities of foreigners. But they don't know what happens among the Awakened, and this makes them vulnerable.

The Ahl-i-Batin pride themselves on keeping track of what is really going on, at least the Scholars of Light and the Brethren of Purity and Balance. They know a lot about what different groups are planning and doing through various means, ranging from simple deduction and observation to blackmail (although they tend to be so diffident about it the victims seldom feel blackmailed; instead they often think it is they who control the situation). This includes leaks among the choristers and technomancers.

The Technocracy has the advantage of being able to use widespread phonetapping, government agencies and other powerful resources, but it is a bit too heavy-handed to get good information. Instead it tries to pressure some known batini supporters into revealing it, which has made them somewhat dependent on possible desinformation. The Choristers have begun to realise this possibility, and will doubtless attempt to either force the batini to end the collaboration (which would hurt them) or give more desinformation, in addition to helping them.

The Order of Hermes in Egypt is somewhat limited. The Alexandrian chantry has gradually concentrated itself on dealing only with what is happening in it's city, and the Luxor Club is too small and introverted to give much useful information. Instead it relies on the batini, which are in an excellent position to dictate terms. On the other hand, it has the support of Horizon, which makes it immune from most attacks from the Traditions.

The Priestesses of Isis are second only to the batini in knowing what is going on, and since they have infiltrators close to both the Technocracy, Ahl-I-Batin, Order to Hermes and Chorus, they have a good view of the big picture. They do not support any of the sides, but give them subtle help to prevent any clear-cut victory that would make their manipulation hard. Their goal is to give crucial help at the critical moment, so that their followers become indispensable. They are foremost fighting the Dogs of Shaitan/Cult of Nun, which is doing its best to make the situation worse and ideally cause total war.

Strong Sides Weak Sides
Celestial Chorus Popular support, strong faith Sometimes inflexible, a split between moderates and radicals, world opinion against them.
Technocracy Many citizens are dependent on it, the paradigm is still on its side, government resources, outside backers. Tied up in its own structure, little contact with the people, lack of initiative.
Ahl-I-Batin Prime source of information, many contacts and allies. Splintered, pressure from both directions.
Priestesses of Isis Secret from the others, good information and influence network. Doesn't want to fight in the open, involved in their own jihad, too subtle for their own good.
Order of Hermes Outside backers. Weak, no natural supporters. Dependent on other groups.
Dogs of Shaitan Secret, corruption and destruction is easy. Unorganized, self-defeating

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