Al-Khaleej, UAE, Septem­ber 3

The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - ARAB MEDIA - – Yasser Zatara

Arabs and Mus­lims have long had an in­ex­pli­ca­ble ob­ses­sion with con­spir­acy the­o­ries, myths and folk­lore. Many of us in the Arab world truly be­lieve that greater forces, which are out of our con­trol, shape the cour­ses of our lives. This comes as no sur­prise to any­one liv­ing among us.

Yet I was shocked to read a re­cent study con­ducted in France, which shows that nearly 80% of the French peo­ple be­lieve in con­spir­acy the­o­ries, in­clud­ing the idea that what is hap­pen­ing in our world to­day is some­how con­trolled by in­vis­i­ble gov­ern­ments. What are the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween our so­ci­eties that might be caus­ing these be­liefs?

In my hum­ble opin­ion, the French might feel in­fe­rior to the An­glo-Sax­ons, just like we, in the Arab world, of­ten feel in­fe­rior to our coun­ter­parts in the West. His­tor­i­cally speak­ing, the French cul­ture has been out­weighed by the An­glo-Saxon one. So, in or­der to jus­tify this in­fe­ri­or­ity com­plex, the French peo­ple re­sort to do­ing what many self-doubt­ing civ­i­liza­tions do: de­vel­op­ing be­liefs about how forces beyond their con­trol con­spired in dark rooms to di­min­ish their cul­tural, fi­nan­cial or po­lit­i­cal strength.

Un­for­tu­nately, ad­her­ing to these kinds of be­liefs, even sub­con­sciously, is ex­tremely dan­ger­ous. As the Arab ex­pe­ri­ence has taught us, this pushes so­ci­eties to ig­nore their own fail­ures, while ab­solv­ing in­di­vid­u­als of re­spon­si­bil­ity for their ac­tions.

At this point you might be ask­ing your­self how this ap­plies to real life. Con­sider, for ex­am­ple, that politi­cians of­ten use con­spir­acy the­o­ries to jus­tify their fail­ures. Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan, who cre­ated Turkey’s cur­rency cri­sis with his own two hands, in­sisted that his coun­try was sub­jected to some for­eign “cru­sade.” Like many other politi­cians, Er­do­gan sim­ply didn’t want to ad­mit his own fail­ings, so he re­sorted to spread­ing false claims.

In­stead of as­crib­ing ev­ery fail­ure to a con­spir­acy, we would be much bet­ter served if we de­manded our lead­ers pro­vide real, ra­tio­nal and log­i­cal ex­pla­na­tions for their ac­tions. Surely, there are sin­is­ter forces in the world try­ing to ex­ert covert in­flu­ence over economies and po­lit­i­cal sys­tems, but they un­ques­tion­ably aren’t be­hind each and ev­ery suc­cess or fail­ure we ex­pe­ri­ence on a day-to-day ba­sis.

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