Is conflict between the West and Islam the result of mistaken ideas about the Islamic world? Do Europeans (and Americans) portray Islam as static, monolithic, and reactionary? This volume, edited by a French researcher at Harvard, examines whether such “cultural talk” triggers Western overreaction and inflames Muslim opposition both inside and outside Europe and the United States. It is something of a grab bag of perspectives, heavier on speculation than on hard sociological, economic, and political data. Yet the general tendency -- oddly enough, given the premise of the book -- seems to disconfirm the notion that Western perspectives on Islam matter much. One contribution finds such hostile stereotypes mainly among extremists. Another points out that European efforts to combat terrorism have been largely successful. Still another points out that such views are more prevalent in the United States, where Muslims have been more fully integrated than in Europe. One comes away with the impression that the integration of minorities reflects a far more complex range of factors than cultural stereotypes.
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