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Art and the Foreigner’s Gaze: A Report on Contemporary Arab Representations

While, according to a recent poll, 80% of the British believe that ‘political correctness’ inhibits them from discussing Islam, news programmes in the UK (like the rest of the European media and, perhaps to a lesser extent, that of the US) are pregnant with ‘Muslim issues’, from reports on the war in Iraq or the Israel-Palestine conflict to polemics around the wearing of the veil by students or staff in comprehensive schools. Behind the reports and the discussions stands one common assumption: there are a certain set of values and practices, characteristically Muslim, which are incompatible with the typically Western, progressive mode of social organisation. The discussion that followed the publication of cartoons of Prophet Mohammed in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005 perfectly lays down the arguments at play.