Conspiracy theory in the Arab World [Archives:2005/889/Opinion]
RAIDAN ABDULAZIZ AL-SAQQAF
The Arab addiction to conspiracy theories is notorious, from the 19th century protocols of the elders of Zion to UN resolutions dealing with the Arab World and more recently Bush's 'crusade' in Iraq. Explaining this addiction can include both reason and hysteria; in the sense that subscribers to such theories can easily adopt a reason to accept such a theory then become hysterically obsessed with it.
Conspiracy theories aren't necessarily untrue, as most of such theories are not supported by solid evidence or even by conclusions of critical analysis. Conspiracy theory is mainly based on emotions due to the holistic thinking approach of the Arab people around the subject, similar to other popular conspiracy theories such as the death of Rapper Tupak Shakur and Princess Diana where emotions overcome reason.
Indeed, conspiracies emerge after a disaster or a series of disappointments, in this case the loss of Palestine and the humiliation of defeat that followed. The Arab people believe in the superiority Islam yields to Muslims in general and Arabs in particular, so Arabs resort to adopting a theory of Zionist-western theory of conspiracy that aims to controlling the Arabs, creating a large Zionist state on Arab soil and take advantage of the natural resources in the middle east.
Such conspiracy theory provided a suitable resort as a result of unavailability or inaccessibility of information especially in non-democratic countries such as Arab countries where there is a common and familiar feeling around conspiracies; as paranoiac governments formulate special security agencies (big brother) that attempt to spot and kill anything deemed to be a conspiracy against the regime or its interests, resulting in a common fear among the societies of these countries from those agencies, in the Arab layman terms there are plenty of metaphors in which this fear is illustrated and reflecting how a conspiracy can be dangerous.
Even in the Arab education systems, the plots made against profit Mohammed (PBUH) in the early days of Islam were coin phrased as conspiracies, and more recently the cooperation of local authorities, tribal leaders with colonization or with foreign powers were conspiracies ending with revolutions and the slaughter of the ex-rulers who cooperate with foreign powers.
However, the general theory of conspiracy existing in the Arab world is the story of the Arab-Israeli conflict since the loss of Palestine and the role western powers have played in it. Along with a number of less important theories fueling the conflict such as the Israeli influence on the United States of America, the killing of Abdul Nasser and Yasser Arafat, the toxic waste in the river of Jordan, the unlabeled clothing items and belts containing magnets resulting in infertility, and the role the Mossad played in 9/11, and a long (long) list of more theories.
Today, with Pan-Arab media and technological advancements of communications, analysis and opinions around this conspiracy theory continue to provide a resort to the Arab audience as an explanation for the poverty, backwardness, underdevelopment, defeat, diseases, as these all are only a result of this conspiracy to stop Arabs from development in spire of being rich in natural resources and have an imperative tool to help them achieve global superiority, i.e. Islam.
Therefore, a significant segment of public opinion believes in this theory, especially the publishing of the Arabic version of the protocols of the elders of Zion in 1972, followed by thousands of other books, journals, articles, lectures, debates and websites started to emerge, most notable of these is a translation of Shimon Peres' book The New Middle East, with a forward by an editor of Egyptian state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper clearly illustrating that Shimon Peres proves unequivocally that the Protocols are authentic, and that they tell the truth.
So, if the protocols theory is true, what else is true? Another group of Arab illustrate that Arab's failure in the new global economy is merely a result of successive regimes implementing inadequate developmental policy and focused on monopolizing power and national wealth, hereby developing corruption, dominance and social inequality, indicating that the problem is in the Arabs themselves, being industrially & technologically backward, lazy and dependant on the west and sale of oil, and last but not least, being corrupt.
In Conclusion, subscribing to such theories is highly circumstantial and dependable on the stand view of the person, his upbringing and community living experience, placing this person in a wide spectrum from those who have a strong urge to retaliate to such theories and those who can't relate with them.