Some Context for the Protests in the Middle East

It can be hard for Americans to understand why we seem to be such a magnet for anger in some parts of the Muslim world.  It’s a complex problem, with complex answers, but in some ways it really illustrates the clash between substantive and procedural cultures we discuss in Chapter 1 of KTR.

Since the Arab Spring, much of the Arab world, whose political culture has traditionally been quite substantive politically (believing that government should enforce the moral principles that their religion holds to be true), is beginning to emerge into the more politically procedural culture of democracy.  To grapple with the meaning of free speech, for instance, which allows all voices to be heard, is frustrating to them when they believe that some of the voices (such as the ones heard in the film trailer that set off the latest round of violence) are so clearly untrue and should be condemned.  This piece in the Washington Post helps explain this cultural clash, and gives you some context for understanding what is going on.


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