February 27, 2017, 3:14 pm
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The far times: Sideward

ANDALUSIA, 1492, it is the Spanish Inquisition, and Aguilar de Nerha of the Assassin’s Brotherhood is deployed to rescue Prince Ahmed de Granada from the Templars who are coercing Sultan Muhammad XII (Prince Ahmed’s father) to surrender the Apple of Eden.

In this world, the Assassin’s Brotherhood and the Templar Order are battling for possession of the Apple of Eden (which is the genetic code to man’s free will), with the former defending peace through free will and the latter obsessed with peace through mind-control. The Brotherhood’s members are fitted with wrist blades and the Order is composed of monks and knights. Who are the good guys and who are the villains?

Welcome to Michael Fassbender’s “Assassin’s Creed” film-universe that extends Ubisoft’s “Assassin’s Creed” action-adventure and pseudo-historical video-game series. This is a genre played by millions of gamers and the movie explores the concept of genetic memories. As a bonus feature in the motion picture’s official website, a fan inputting his surname and geographic location into an app will discover that he may be distantly related to Japanese shogun Oda Nobunaga and Mongol warlord Genghis Khan.

The big-screen extension of the “Assassin’s Creed” game-play also offers an opportunity to look into real-world events involving political killings, conspiracies and corporatist agendas. Samples:

(1) “Victor Hugo declared in his Les Orientales (1829) that Spain also was oriental. This perception owed mainly to the rich heritage of Islamic architecture left behind by the Moorish rule on the Iberian Peninsula...As Renaissance started to conquer Europe, centuries of Moorish rule in the Iberian Peninsula was brought to an end in 1492, with the conquest of Granada by the Catholic Kings...the Muslim empire of the Morisco-Spaniards that enjoyed a prosperous civilization for eight centuries was almost completely annihilated.” [Arda and others, “Reconquering Andalusia: The Muslim Cities of the West,” American International Journal of Contemporary Research, Vol. 3, No. 9, September 2013]

(2) Andalusia is the region with the highest concentration of Gitanos in Spain. [Report on the situation of Roma and Sinti in the OSCE Area, The Hague, 10 March 2000]

(3) “In 1492, unlike the Spanish Jews, the Spanish Muslims had not yet received the ultimatum to either convert to Christianity or to leave the Peninsula. But as early as 1499, Muslims of Spain knew that the same prospect presented to the Jewish communities would be enforced upon them. In 1501 a royal decree was made requiring the Muslims of Granada to convert to Christianity or face exile. This capitulation translated into conversion activities throughout the different kingdoms of Spain from 1501 to 1526. In 1501 the Granadan Muslims were baptized, in 1502 the same activity spread to Castile. By 1526, the Muslims of Granada, Castile, Aragon, Valencia, Extremadura and elsewhere in Spain had converted.” [Bahrami, Beebe, “The Persistence of the Andalusian Identity in Rabat, Morocco” (1995). Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations. 1176]

(4) “The peasants of all the villages of Andalusia are rising, united by the ardent wish to smash reaction and to halt the advance of fascism.” [Dolores Ibárruri, “Discipline, Calm, Vigilance!” Radio Broadcast, Madrid, July 29, 1936]

(5) “It was in the poverty-stricken parts of Spain–mainly in Andalusia and in Catalonia–that the anarchists advocated resort to ‘propaganda by deed.’ During the period from 1882 to 1886, anarchist groups such as Mano Negra engaged in expropriation and murdered more than 20 leading figures.” [The History Of Terrorism From Antiquity To Al Qaeda. Edited by Gérard Chaliand and Arnaud Blin. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2007, p. 119]

(6) “It is strange that Manila has pursued this commerce for 140 years without any protest from Andalusia until now; the decadence of the latter is due rather to lack of economy in the use of their wealth than to the competition of Filipinas; and Andalusia has always encountered trouble, since the persons interested in the greater part of the lading of the galleons and fleets have been and are foreigners—French, English, and Dutch.” [Of what was done in Manila on receiving the decree of October 27, 1720...Reply from the commerce of Andalucia. In: The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898, Volume XLIV, 1700-1736, Editors: Emma Helen Blair, James Alexander Robertson]

(7) “Doña Victorina has added to her false frizzes and to her Andalusization, if we may be permitted the term, the new custom of driving the carriage horses herself.” [José Rizal, Epilogue, The Social Cancer]

(8) “It is as if I see the mujahids given victory in the Arabian Peninsula...The noble people in the states will renounce (the regimes) and restore the rights of the Umma which these collaborating regimes had snatched away...After that, the throngs will apply themselves (by the aid of God) to liberating Jerusalem and that which surrounds it and liberating Bukhara, Samarkand, Andalusia, and all of the lands of the Muslims. Then we will begin liberating the earth and humanity from the hegemony of unbelief...” [Abu Bakr Naji. The Management of Savagery: The Most Critical Stage Through Which the Umma Will Pass. Translated by William McCants. John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University. 23 May 2006. Page 144]

So much for the setting of the story. Meanwhile, the Order has been a real force in history.

(1) “The original Knights Templar was a mediaeval military order during the Crusades (1129-1312 A.D.), charged with defending pilgrims in the Holy Land, known for its members’ piety, military prowess – and wealth. The Mexican Knights Templar combined the religious fervour of La Familia and the martial culture of the Zetas. They were governed by a written code of ethics positioning Knights as temporal intermediaries between the community and their unjust oppressors (the state and other criminal rivals).” [James David Robert Cockayne. Hidden Power: The Strategic Logic of Organized Crime. Sicily, New York and the Caribbean, 1859- 1968, and Mexico and the Sahel. Thesis. King’s College London]

(2) There is demonstrable continuity between German Nazism and Andres Breivik’s vision of a new caste of Knights Templars repelling Muslims from Europe’s citadel. [Roger Griffin, “Studying Fascism in a Postfascist Age. From New Consensus to New Wave?” Fascism 1 (2012) 1–17]

(3) “The knights of St. John, the Teutonic knights, or the Templars–the latter of these, besides the grand-master and grand-priors, and religious nuncios, had also some resemblance to the Assassins in their spirit of political interference and secret doctrine.” [Joseph, Freiherr von Hammer-Purgstall. The History of the Assassins: Derived from Oriental Sources. London: Smith and Elder, Cornhill, 1835, p. 80]

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