As this column has documented extensively, conspiracy theories dreamed up by Arabs and Iranians appear daily in their press. Recent events highlighting the extent of this phenomenon include their commentary on the destruction of the Shiite shrine in Samarra and the controversy surrounding cartoons of Islam's prophet Muhammad.
The Samarra attack was blamed on America and Israel by - among others - Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei; Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah; Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and a leading Islamist, Sheik Al-Qaradawi.
On February 27, an editorial in the Iranian daily Jomhuri-ye Eslami laid out in detail why America blew up the shrine, while a February 28 article in the Tehran Times titled "Who Was Behind the Samarra Blasts?" held responsible "the unholy alliance of the U.S., Zionists, and the terrorists operating in Iraq."
It was no surprise on whom the cartoon controversy was blamed. A vocal Swedish anti-Semite, Ahmad Rami, pointed to "the Jewish-controlled press" in the Tehran Times on February 23, while in Lebanon, the vice president of the Higher Shiite Council, Sheik Abdel-Amir Qabalan, was quoted by the Daily Star on February 11 as saying "the Zionists" initiated the uproar.
The following are the top 10 conspiracies from the Arab and Iranian press this season:
10) "Israeli security organizations are in efforts to spread flagrancy and corruption among young [Iranians] to harm the Islamic establishment" and Israel has been behind the smuggling of liquor into Iran, the Islamic Republic News Agency quoted an Iranian police commander, Colonel Hossein Abdi, as saying on January 31. A Syrian government daily, Teshreen, on January 8 quoted the Iranian foreign minister condemning an unnamed Zionist company "that published certain cards insulting Muslims and their religious traditions in Iran."
9) "The U.S. propagates a long-term plan for conflict with Muslims. The plan designates no countries, cultures, [or] history ... It is war against some unidentifiable mass entity, where the only visible landmarks are vital ports and strategic natural resources," the Syrian minister of expatriates, Bouthaina Shabban, wrote in a February 22 column in the London Arabic daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.
8) America instructed some Muslim countries to "eliminate" verses from the Koran, Ayatollah Nuri Hamadani told elite members of the Iranian military, according to a Tehran Iranian Labor News report released the first week of January.
7) An article in the Egyptian government Al-Ahram Weekly of March 2-8 by Khaled Amayrch reported on Israeli religious political party platforms for dealing with the Palestinian Arabs: "enslavement whereby non-Jews living under Jewish law are forced to become 'water carries and wood hewers,' expulsion, or outright extermination."
6) Turkish Muslims discovered America, according to documents presented by a Turkish professor, Ruat Sezgin, who founded and chairs the Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science, at the Association of Written Heritage office in Tehran on February 5.
5) "British Hand Behind Ahvaz bombings," a headline published by the Mehr News Agency on January 26 read. Iran's foreign minister expressed the same sentiment when speaking to Al-Jazeera on January 25; in a January 26 interview with the network, Iran's interior minister claimed America, Britain, and Israel were behind a series of plane crashes in Iran.
4) The Mossad has planned terror attacks in Lebanon, the January 31 edition of Teshreen quoted President Lahoud of Lebanon as saying, while a Qatari daily, Al-Raia, on January 26 quoted a former Syrian defense minister, Mustafa Tlas, as saying Israel assassinated a former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri.
3) Small teams of CIA-sponsored militias are behind all the kidnapping and killing of foreigners in Iraq, Firas Al-Atraqchi wrote in an extensive report in the Al-Ahram Weekly of February 9-15. It included a picture of a kidnapped Christian Science Monitor reporter, Jill Carroll.
2) "The Jewish Walt Disney Company" created the Tom and Jerry cartoon to improve the image of Jews, because Jews were called "Dirty Mice" in Europe, an Iranian government adviser, Hasan Bolkhari, said February 19 on Iranian TV Channel 4.
1) Israel created the avian flu virus in order to damage "genes carried only by Arabs," a January 31 column by Abd Al-Rahman Ghunwym in a Syrian government daily, Al-Thawra, said. Another possibility given was that the virus was created to attack "the yellow race - especially in China and Vietnam" that are "rising powers" threatening "American hegemony over the world."
Mr. Stalinsky is the executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute.