Welcome to the thoughts, rants and passions of a young Muslim woman seeking soulful enlightenment in cyberspace.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

I know… the Jews did it! Or is it America this time?!

A few hours after my post on Auschwitz, I received an email entitled, “Muslims Need to Look Critically at the Auschwitz Myth: Why No Memorial for 400 Years of Slavery & None for the Extinction of "Red Indians?"

The article questions the validity of the Auschwitz claims. It challenges the idea that 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust. And most shockingly – it questions how so many Jewish survivors came out alive. The article says it best: “If it was a "death camp" and "trainloads of Jews were off loaded straight into the fire" [as one story goes], how did these people survive?” And finally, the article turns to more pressing concerns: the ‘Holocaust’ of the Bosnians, Native Americans, Africans, Afghanis, and Palestinians. The implication is that Israel benefited from the Jewish Holocaust while the world ignores many other “Holocausts”.

The article is a rather crude and unconvincing attempt to outline a well-known conspiracy theory. It goes like this:
  1. The Holocaust didn’t really happen.
  2. If it did, it wasn’t as wide-scale as the Jews claim it is.
  3. It was the Jews who were behind the Holocaust; they invented the whole mess to create momentum for the Israeli cause.

I want to set aside the gross contradictions in that argument for now. I’d like to explore another question: Why do Muslims believe in conspiracies? The theories spread like viruses, fast and widespread in the community. Jews were behind the tragedy on September 11, 2001 because they didn’t go to work that day. The tsunami was no natural disaster, but was caused by nuclear tests conducted by the axis of anti-Islam: The United States, Israel and India. I believe the attraction to a conspiracy theory arises from its simplicity. It provides an easy answer to what appears complex or uncontrollable.

There is an element of truth in every conspiracy. Perhaps something in the official version of the story has not been fully proven. There is room to question. And conspiracy theorists are ready to pounce. While I do not doubt that some conspiracy theories turn out to be true, it is often impossible to prove or disprove the claims. This is why it is disturbing when Muslims press the forward button too hastily, sending the theory spiralling through cyberspace into the inboxes of other Muslims worldwide.

It is important to question. We need people to be ever vigilant, to ensure injustices do not occur unnoticed. But conspiracy theory claims need to be analyzed with the same vigour with which “official” theories are shot down. Often conspiracy theorists will make fantastical claims. If one were to criticize them for the fact that there is no evidence for their story, they assert its validity by pointing to the fact that the media did not report it. Somehow that’s a good thing; somehow it supports their theory. Seems absurdly illogical to me. The media, it seems, is in line with America and Israel. Which leaves me to wonder about the positive news stories about Islam – did they somehow escape notice by the Zionist “enemy”? There seems to be no rational way to get through to a conspiracy theorist. All that talk about kids becoming suicide bombers? The Zionist media is inventing things about the Palestinians. But what happens when that same Zionist media reports that Israel is bulldozing homes, or building a security barrier, or shooting a girl multiple times even though she’s already dead? We accept that as truth. We do not question those claims.

I am concerned about this conspiracy syndrome. We are fearful of accepting blame and taking responsibility for our mistakes or shortcomings. So we blame others. We come up with fanciful theories to explain away horrible things like September 11. And we are becoming known as a community of passionate but unintelligible rowdy yahoos. We are losing our credibility. Most importantly, we are losing our ability to think rationally. And that I think is the greatest loss of all.


  • At 1/29/2005 05:58:00 a.m., Blogger Grillo said… is a great page that breaks down the lunacy of holocaust denial claims, particularly here in a question and answer format:

    It's really good to spread this link around, because it seems like holocaust denial like the e-mail you received is gaining more ground lately...

  • At 1/30/2005 03:45:00 a.m., Blogger ephphatha said…

    You know, I sometimes hear about people who deny the holocaust. Usually I hear about it when people are giving examples of irrational beliefs. But I've never met one of these people, and the whole idea that they exist has always been remote to me, like they're just an abstract idea, useful when you need to give examples of nut cases.


  • At 1/30/2005 07:43:00 a.m., Blogger Yusuf Smith said…

    I know at least one person who says the Holocaust is exaggerated. As I wrote about on my blog recently, Muslims don't have the sensitivity about it Europeans do because it's not part of the history of where they come from. To them, it could just as easily be some myth cooked up to justify establishing the state of Israel and dispossessing Arabs in Palestine.

    I'm not sure why it is that so many Muslims are prone to believe any crazy conspiracy theory. (The "Lady Di was murdered" theory is said to have been popular in Egypt.) Perhaps it is because the media, and certain imams who are in the government's pay, want people to think everything that's wrong in their lives, from the price of bread to the Palestine situation, is the fault of the kuffar (non-Muslims) and can't be blamed on their own policies.

    The way these theories vary is what gives them away, for me. Some people say "the Jews collaborated in it", some say "it didn't happen", some say "Hitler didn't know about it" and others say "it was exaggerated". There is always a different excuse. Actually, 6 million is a convenient rounded-up figure. The figure is actually between 5 and 6 million. My teacher at Aberystwyth (William Rubinstein) said he believes the figure is 5.3 million; I'm not sure if that includes other "race enemies" like Gypsies.

  • At 1/31/2005 09:23:00 a.m., Blogger Safiyyah said…

    Grillo: Thanks for the link. I've taken a quick look, and I have to say, it's very extensive.
    Sam: I know a few people who have these conspiracy theories. They're not always nutcases:) Sometimes they're supposedly educated people. And it's not just Muslims who come up with these theories either.
    Yusuf: Thanks for your input. Why Muslims believe these things is a very complex problem, and one I am still struggling with. Not learning the history may be part of it, but there are people who grew up in a North American/ European context who hold these points of view too.

  • At 5/03/2005 10:45:00 a.m., Anonymous George said…

    William Rubenstein? As in "The Myth of Rescue"? My posting to Discarded Lies essentially used the arguments mentioned in this book...


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