Dr. Ali S. Awadh Asseri
(Former Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon)
The lingering conflicts in the Muslim world which provides the political context for terrorist actions are, no doubt, a major root cause of terrorism by deviant organizations. There is another, a more recent reason that has its roots in the history of Western orientalism and colonialism. Islamophobia is the latest expression of Western hostility towards the Muslim peoples. The predominant discourse in the European media at present reflects an increasing tide of animosity against Islam and Muslims living in Europe and America. For instance, a 2005 survey on Western perceptions of Islam and Muslims – which questioned more than 2400 people in Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the US – suggested that Muslims were rated lowest as compared to other religious groups. The survey noted that the portrayal of Arabs and Muslims was ‘typically stereotypical and negative’. Nearly three-quarters of the respondents believed that the Western media depicted Arab Muslims and Islam accurately only half the time, not often.
(to be continued)
 Ishtiaq Ahmad, ‘West European Perceptions of Islam.’ Weekly Pulse, 14-20 April 2006