The Next Threat

Western Perceptions of Islam
22 March 2007

Enemy images tell more about those who produce them than about the real 'other'. Between 1945 and 1989, the financial and military powers of the Western world were united by the 'threat' from the communist East. Now, in the post-Cold War period, the West has perceived a new menace - the rise of Islam - as justification for its foreign policy and military intervention.

In 'The Next Threat', six noted contributors explore the origins and consequences of Western attitudes towards the Middle East. The legacies of colonial dominance, they argue, continue to pervade governmental and institutional policy making on the region. In contrast, the self-perception of the West is also changing towards one of insecurity and increased suspicion of its Middle Eastern neighbours.

In almost all forms of media, 'experts,' seek to enlighten us on the new dangers from the east, holly wars, fanatical masses, the revenge of the Middle Ages on modernity and of religion on the Enlightenment. Sometimes Islam is a challenge and sometimes it is a threat. The threat might be considered spiritual, an Oriental counter-model to Western civilization; it might result in an oil stoppage, or it might embody mass migration of immigrants from Turkey or the Maghreb. This analysis does not look at Islam, but rather the West's hostile view of Islam or the 'perceived threat of Islam.' The authours surmise that the Islamic threat is less a threat than it is is a lacuna or gap in our Western identity due to the end of the cold war. This book is about our own Western way of thinking vis a vis Islam.

First published to acclaim in German as 'Feinbild Islam', this translation has been considerably updated with additional material for the English-language audience.


  • The Perceptions of Islam in Western Debate, by Andrea Lueg
  • From Romanticism to Colonial Dominance. Historical Changes in the European Perception of the Middle East, by Petra Kappert
  • How Medieval is Islam? Muslim Intellectuals and Modernity, by Reinhard Schulze
  • 'Islam is in Danger'. Authority, Rushdie and the Struggle for the Migrant Soul, by Fred Halliday
  • Islam and Politics in the Middle East, Azmy Bishara
  • The Islamic Threat and Western Foreign Policy, by Jochen Hippler
  • Conclusion. Dealing with Islam, by Jochen Hippler and Andrea Lueg
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