The Egyptian conspiracy theory obsession

Consistently fueled by the state media, millions of Egyptians today claim that ‘the world is conspiring against us’! Egyptians haven’t bothered to task themselves with determining who exactly is conspiring against Egypt, and what precisely those enemies are doing. In truth, most of the countries accused of conspiring against our country could also be perceived in a different manner; as nations that are trying to help us.

Attempting to discuss and substantiate a conspiracy theory with an Egyptian citizen is always a losing battle. Egyptians seem to have their own logic and thinking concerning conspiracy apparatus that are difficult to challenge. Introducing another ridiculous nonsensical story to counter attack a conspiracy theory is certainly more valued by Egyptians, who not only are strong believers in conspiracy, but also claim to be its discoverers.

Conspiracy theory is widely defined as “a belief that some secret but influential organization is responsible for a circumstance or event”. It is a theory that works well for the Egyptian government and citizens; it enables them to waive responsibility and accountability for their problems by laying the blame for these at the feet of a ‘hidden enemy’. Culturally, Egypt is a suspicious society and Egyptians tend to enjoy to the maximum mythical conspiracy narratives that do not only target the illiterate portion of the society – many well-educated Egyptians also suffer from conspiracy paranoia!

Personally, I find that most of the conspiracy theories put forth are farfetched stories that would never stick due to their lack of basic commonsense. However, because of the great naïveté of most Egyptians and a fertile platform in which all kinds of nonsensical, ridiculous tales can easily emerge, being sensible isn’t a factor when it comes to Egyptians’ obsession with conspiracy.

Although the uncertainty and fear that were brought about by the January 2011 revolution greatly expanded Egyptians’ ready acceptance of all kinds of narratives, the seeds of conspiracy theory were, nevertheless, already well-rooted among Egyptians prior to the revolution.

Government’s deficiencies

Egypt’s consecutive rulers, who have uniformly wanted their citizens to be united, tend to capitalize on the Egyptian cultural trait that espouses conspiracies by accusing foreign nations of conspiring against us. This approach has made it possible to disregard much of the deficiencies of governments, conveniently attributed to the hidden enemy conspiring against us. Egyptians tend to differ on internal issues, but when it comes to external enemies, we are obliged to unite – or be accused of betraying our country.

The Egyptian state has never explicitly presented any evidence concerning countries that are allegedly conspiring against us; leaving citizens to unleash their imagination and come up with outrageous stories. Nonetheless, Egyptians have consistently accused the United States, which provides $1.5 billion in annual aid to Egypt, of conspiring against their country. The fact that the US is a superpower with a great interest in the Middle East region makes it easy to denounce that nation as an alleged conspirator; the exaggerated stories that Egyptians tend to believe are more likely to be undertaken by a global superpower.

Additionally, other countries in the region that disagree with the policies of Egypt’s current ruling regime have lately joined the club of alleged conspirators and are explicitly accused of plotting matters that are far beyond their capacity. Nowadays, most universal disputes are discussed through diplomatic channels, non-governmental organizations and the media. However, military interference, such as the ongoing action in Iraq, Libya and Syria (a development to which we, the Arabs, have contributed) are clearly explicit military acts. Thus, they should not be portrayed as forms of conspiracy.

The conspiracy theory dilemma has been preventing us from better understanding the universe’s political dynamic and from tackling our challenges in an appropriate manner. Politics are rarely black and white; what some citizens perceive as a foreign conspiracy against Egypt others may value as genuine political advice. Likewise, our government’s accords with certain other countries could equally be perceived as harmful to our nation.

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