Glossary

Glossary of key terms used by Arab Research & Advocacy Bureau. (This page is under construction).

9/11

“9/11” refers to the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks that targeted the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York, USA, and the Pentagon in Washington DC, USA. The US government narrative states that the attacks were planned and orchestrated by al-Qaeda under the direction of Osama bin Laden, but numerous other conspiracy theories have since emerged about how the WTC and Pentagon were targeted.

During the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a total of three aeroplanes were hijacked; two of these were flown into both WTC towers, and one of these planes was flown into the Pentagon. All members onboard the plane died, including their pilots, and a substantial number of people died in the targeted buildings. The official total death toll for the 9/11 attacks is 2,996, with approximately 25,000 injuries.

The impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks was substantial. The attacks signified the targeting of a centre for global trade and governance. Furthermore, the attacks catalysed the invasion of Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan by former US President George W. Bush, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and several other NATO allies. Furthermore, the recent rise of populism can be viewed as a response to neoconservative interventions triggered by the 9/11 attacks.

Abd el-Krim Khattabi

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Advocacy

Agnosticism

Agnosticism is the state of uncertainty regarding the existence of a deity or deities and/or regarding adherence to specific religious denominations and the institution of religion. Whilst some agnostics are on a journey of establishing their faith or non-faith-based position, other agnostics often believe that one can never be certain about the existence of higher powers and/or the legitimacy of organised religion.

Al-Qaeda (AQ)

“Al-Qaeda” (AQ) refers to the terrorist Islamist organisation with cells and lone wolf agents operating across the globe. Its name (“القاعدة‎”) literally means “The Base” in Arabic. AQ was founded in 1988 in Peshawar, Pakistan, by Osama bin Laden and several other veterans of the Soviet-Afghan War. The organisation rose to infamy in 2001 following its September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New YorkFollowing bin Laden’s death in May 2011, Ayman al-Zawahiri became AQ’s leader.

AQ has various faction groups – such as al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP), al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) – but the organisation does not establish any specific headquarters to a fixed geographical location. 

Whilst both organisations have been influenced by Salafi-style Wahhabism, AQ can therefore be distinguished from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in at least two ways. Firstly, ISIS confined itself within a geographical territory and attempted to establish a their idea of a caliphate within that territory. This contrasts with AQ’s more globalised vision which seeks the process of global Islamist power consolidation through terror and other terror-related tactics.

Secondly, ISIS members generally believe that we are living in apocalyptic times. It believed that its late Caliph – Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – was fulfilling prophetic as a so-called Caliph implementing ISIS’ understanding of austere Islamist rule in a fixed geographical nation. AQ members, on the other hand, generally believe that they are preparing for the end of times and the coming of the Mahdi and do not believe that we are living in the end of times at present.

Amazigh

The Amazigh people (known by the Latinised term “Berber” people) constitute North Africa‘s native demographic group. There are several Amazigh communities – such as Chleuhs, Rifians, Kabyles and the Tuareg – all of whom speak different derivatives of the Amazigh language. Many Amazigh people residing in North Africa also speak Arabic, French and Spanish due to the role of historic colonialism. The predominant religion of the Amazigh is Sunni Islam, but Amazigh communities resided in North Africa before the introduction of Islam to the region.

Due to historic colonialism and migration between North Africa and Western Europe, the Amazigh community has significant populations not only in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania, Niger and Mali, but also in Spain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

As such, those identifying as “Amazigh” and those identifying as “Arab” now tend to hold near-identical mixed heritage due to the introduction of Arabs in the region. Thus, both “Amazigh” and “Arab” can be viewed as an identity markers signifying one’s culture, primary language or tribal origin.

Notable Amazigh people across time include Augustine of Hippo, Tariq ibn Ziyad, Ibn Rushd (also known as Averroes), Ibn Firnas, Abd el-Krim Khattabi, Malika Oufkir and Zinedine Zidane.

Antisemitism

Due to the complex and nuanced nature of both Jewish identity and behaviour that constitutes discrimination, there are many attempts to define “antisemitism” by various non-governmental organisations.

The several mainstream definitions of “antisemitism” in circulation can be reconciled as follows. Antisemitism as an attitude is a selective, negative perception of Jews, Jewish faith or Jewish culture on the sole or partial basis of their Jewish identity. Antisemitism can manifest itself consciously or unconsciously in the form of antisemitic hate-speech or action, such as the targeted use of violence towards Jews. It is therefore possible for an individual to express an antisemitic opinion without realising that they are doing so.

Examples of antisemitic attitudes are Holocaust denial and ungrounded conspiracy theories about Jewish communities controlling global politics and dictating the global political economy. Not only are these positions verifiably false, but they risk becoming weaponised by dangerous individuals or groups seeking to justify the use of violence against Jewish communities.

Antisemites may also fail to see a distinction between Jewry (Jewish identity) and Zionism.

More problematic definitions of antisemitism – such as that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) – identify criticism of Zionism as an expression of antisemitism. This definition has been adopted as the formal definition of the US government and the UK Labour Party.

We believe definitions of antisemitism similar  to that of the IHRA are problematic insofar as they further contribute to the conflation between Jewry and Zionism in public discourse. Furthermore, these definitions do not provide a safe space for those critical of Israel‘s actions towards the Palestinians to respond to and lobby against these actions in an objectively legal and non-discriminatory manner.

We therefore advocate and support petitions and lobbying efforts that seek to promote a more nuanced definition of antisemitism.

Apartheid

Apartheid was a system of institutionalised segregation and/or discrimination on grounds of race that occurred in South Africa. Recently, many political commentators have used the term to also refer to Israel’s policies against “1948 Palestinian” refugees residing in Israel (i.e. as opposed to Israel’s subjugation of Palestinians residing within Palestine’s West Bank and Gaza Strip).

The international community applied boycotts and sanctions on South Africa and South African produce in order to pressurise the nation into ending apartheid. The recent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement aims to consolidate similar tactics in order to end apartheid practices in Israel.

Arab

An Arab is anybody that identifies as Arab and originates from a Middle-East and North Africa (MENA) nation with a significant population that speaks a derivative or dialect of Arabic, identifies as being part of the Arabic culture (for example, through formal intergovernmental institutions such as the Arab League) or identifies as having Arab ancestry, regardless of their religious or non-faith-based beliefs.

As such, Arab Research & Advocacy Bureau (ARAB) considers the following nations to be Arab nations: Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Western Sahara and Yemen.

Some members of the Amazigh community may reject being labelled as residing in or originating from an “Arab” country. However, describe a country as Arab merely seeks to recognise the process of Arabisation that has occurred in that country. Whether Arabisation is favourable or unfavourable for indigenous cultures is a separate and additional consideration one should make.

Arab societies

Arab societies are prevalent both within the MENA region and in non-Arab countries that host Arab diaspora and migrant communities. We refer to Arab societies in the plural as Arab societies are unique and multifaceted not only across nations, but also within nations and communities. Members of Arab societies are those who identify as being part of the Arabic culture or as having Arab ancestral ties.

Arab Spring

“Arab Spring” is the term used by the mainstream media to refer to the series of revolutions that occurred across the MENA region between December 2010 and December 2012.

The Arab Spring was initiated by Tunisian vendor Mohamed Bouazizi who ignited himself on fire and consequently died in protest of the confiscation and destruction of his family’s fruit and vegetable store at the hands of officials in Tunisia. The Arab Spring escalated and resulted in protests across the MENA region and subsequent regime change in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen.

Although the term “Arab Spring” holds an etymologically positive connotation, we do not necessarily believe the series of events were entirely positive for the Arab world. Critics of the uprisings often state that regime change resulted in civil war, economic decline and/or the replacement of one autocrat for another. Thus, when we refer to the Arab Spring, we are simply referring to its use in common parlance for the convenience and legibility of our readers.

Arabisation

Often used by orientalists with a negative connotation, “Arabisation” is the process through which Arabic language and culture and Arab demography disperses itself throughout a society, either naturally or through foreign colonial intervention. Examples of Arabisation include the introduction of Arab societies into North Africa which coincided with the spread of Islam in the region.

Aramaic

Aristotelianism

Atheism

Atheism the absence of belief in any deity or deities. Atheists often believe that the universe or multiverse was self-created and that evolutionary processes suffice in explaining the creation of humans, animals, bacteria and other molecular and cellular compositions.

Autocracy

“Autocracy” is a portmanteau of the Greek terms auto (meaning self) and kratos (meaning power). Therefore, autocracy refers to the process of exercise of undemocratic power by one individual. An autocracy may take the form of an absolute system of power (absolutism), where the autocrat is specifically a monarch.

“Autocracy” should not be confused with “dictatorship”. A dictatorship may contain a single dictator (the autocrat) or it may contain a number of dictators in complex elite pacts with one-another (the oligarchs).

It is finally worth nothing that an autocrat may or may not be tyrannical. Tyranny specifically refers to the application of oppression and/or suppression by the dictatorship.

Ayman al-Zawahiri

Ba'athism

Bab al-Mandab Strait

Balance of power

Barack Obama

Berlin Conference

Black identity

Boycott

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)

Caliphate

Camp David agreements

Caucasian

Caucasus

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

Civil rights movement

Civil war

Christianity

Christianity is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion that focuses on the life, examples and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth (عيسى or ‘Isa in Arabic). Arab countries with significant Christian populations include Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.

The main two denominations of Christianity are Catholicism and Protestantism, both of which can be divided into further denominations. The main difference between these two groups is the discrepancy of their views regarding the authority of the scriptures (إنجيل or ʾinjīl in Arabic). Protestants don’t view tradition as equal in authority with the scriptures.

Cognitive bias

Cognitive dissonance

Colonialism

Conservatism

Conspiracy theory

Corruption

Darwinism

Democracy

Diaspora

Donald J. Trump

Druze

English Defence League (EDL)

Epistemology

Eurocentrism

European Union (EU)

Existentialism

Extremism

"Fake news"

Fatah

Fatalism

Fayyadism

Feminism

Foreign direct investment (FDI)

Foreign intervention

Gaza Strip

George W. Bush

Globalisation

Golan Heights

Guerilla warfare

Gulf wars

Hamas

Hate-speech

Hebrew

Humanitarian intervention

Ibn Battuta

Ibn Khaldun

Ibn Rushd

Ideology

Institutionalised discrimination

International community

International system

Intifada

Islam

Islamic Golden Age

Islamic Revolution

Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

Islamisation

Islamism

Islamophobia

Israel

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF)

Israeli occupation

Judaism

Judea

Keynesian economics

Leninism

Levant

Liberalism

Libyan Civil War

Maghreb

Mahdi

Mainstream media

Marxism

Mercenary

Mesopotamia

Metaphysics

Microaggression

Middle-East and North Africa (MENA)

Migrant

Monarchy

Muslim Brotherhood

Nasserism

Nationalism

Nazism

Neoconservatism

Neoliberalism

Neorealism

Nepotism

New Classical economics

Nihilism

Non-governmental organisation (NGO)

Non-state actor

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

Oligarchy

Ontology

Oppression

Orientalism

Osama bin Laden

Oslo accords

Ottoman Empire

Palestine

Pan-Arabism

Pax

Peacebuilding

Persian Empire

Plato

Populism

Postcolonialism

Postmodernism

Propaganda

Quilliam Foundation

Radicalism

Rationalism

Realism

Rebellionism

Religion

Republic

Revolution

Roman Empire

Romanticism

Sahel

Salafism

Sanctions

Scramble for Africa

Sectarianism

Semite

Sexism

Sinai Peninsula

Socialism

Social justice

Sovereignty

Soviet Union

Stalinism

Strait of Gibraltar

Strait of Hormuz

Suez Canal

Sufism

Suppression

Sustainability

Syrian Civil War

Taliban

Tariq ibn Ziyad

Terrorism

Terrorism is the use or threat of use of violence on civilian populations with intent to expand political, philosophical, religious or ideological motives. Whilst the term “terrorism” is usually applied to characterise non-state actors, we believe that it is possible for a state actor to engage in acts of terrorism.

Theocracy

Tony Blair

Ummah

United Arab Republic (UAR)

The United Arab Republic (UAR) was a socialist, pan-Arab republic and political union led by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. The UAR encompassed modern-day Egypt, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and Syria and existed between 1958 and 1971.

United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

United Nations (UN)

Violence

Wahhabism

West Bank

Western Sahara

Zionism