Pope Francis questioned what he called the West’s “cultural colonialism” in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) especially in war torn countries where it is trying to impose its vision of democracy whilst fighting against the terrorism of Islamist extremist groups.
“Face with the current Islamic terrorism, we should question the way a too western democracy model was exported in countries where there was a strong power, as in Iraq… or Libya, the tribal structure. We cannot move forward without considering that culture,” he said in an interview with La Croix, a Roman Catholic French newspaper.
Tribal structures are part of the Arab history and they still play a crucial role in the society. Misunderstanding or forgoing it could be seen be as a sign of disrespect or insult knowing what the honor of a tribe means in an Arab society.
The Pope said western countries are trying to impose a democratic model that is too westernized in countries that already have strong indigenous political cultures. He urged for the integration of these cultures to ease the process or else the situation might degenerate instead of improving as he made reference to Libya where in 2011, NATO helped rebel forces end the Gadhafi regime considered as a dictatorship by Western countries. “As a Libyan said recently, ‘We used to have one Gaddafi, now we have fifty’”, Francis stated.