The Arab Guilt: Meditations on a Postage Stamp
Rachid Boutayeb (Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, Qatar)

This study is based on the hypothesis that we can read the past critically, know it scientifically, and judge it objectively, exclusively in a democratic context, in the context of a “Schulddemokratie”, which teaches us that building a critical relationship with the past and with traditions, is a conditio sine qua non for building a democratic order.

However, the major political currents in the Arab world, namely authoritarianism, sectarianism, and Salafism, do not enter a critical relationship with the past, but still attempt a heroic restoration of it— an ideological, enchanted relationship that sacrifices historical specificity in favor of imagined authenticity, the individual in favor of the collective, and the present in favor of the past or the illusion of the past.