Posted by Ali Reda | Posted in | Posted on 5/24/2014

For Saed, the term Orientalism describes the "The false Western images of the East where the Orient is inferior to The Occident, resulting from cultural prejudices and justifying The Western colonial ambitions either militarily or economically". Muslims and Arabs are essentially seen as either oil suppliers or potential terrorists.

Following the ideas of Michel Foucault, Said emphasized the relationship between power and knowledge in scholarly and popular thinking, in particular regarding European views of the Islamic Arab world. Said argued that the “Orient” was constructed as a negative inversion of Western culture. Orientalism hinged on arguments that circulated around the issue of national distinctiveness, and racial and linguistic origins. Thus the elaborate and detailed examinations of Oriental languages, histories and cultures were carried out in a context in which the supremacy and importance of European civilization was unquestioned. Such was the discourse that myth, opinion, hearsay and prejudice generated by influential scholars quickly assumed the status of received truth.

Another feature of Orientalism was that the culture of the orientals was explained to the European audience by linking them to the western culture, for example, Islam was made into Mohammadism because Mohammad was the founder of this religion and since religion of Christ was called Christianity; thus Islam should be called Mohammadism. The point to be noted here is that no Muslim was aware of this terminology and this was a completely western created term, and to which the Muslims had no say at all.

This problem also appears between Zionists and Arabs, where the Arabs are uncivilized, Desert living, ignorant herds and the Zionists are the carriers of democracy, Liberalism and European and American Legacies so they reconstruct history to confirm the validity of Zionist claims to Philistine. The Arabs were deemed incapable of representing themselves and the Zionists took that place to explain the Oriental Arabs to the west. As Marx Said:
They cannot represent themselves, they must be represented.
So Israel is the new Occident and the Arabs is the new Orient.

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