Publication details

Impact of perceptual biases on cultural perception towards the ‘other’: the case of Egypt versus the European Union, Contemporary Arab Affairs, 8:4, 505-522


Author(s): Khatib, Hakim
Year of publication: 2015

Abstract: The empirical literature has focused on political, socio-economic and even religious indicators when attempting to understand the rise of Islamic factions in Egypt, thereby minimizing the role of cultural aspects in driving mobilization and contestation processes in the Arab World. With this issue in mind, this paper focuses on the alteration of cultural perception of the public through the capitalization of perceptual biases. The contribution of European Union policies in the region has served as useful material for the Islamic rhetoric of the ‘Salafi Call’ and the Muslim Brotherhood in creating a European Union-sceptical culture to contest and mobilize for the elections in 2012 in Egypt. Based on the sixth edition of Jerald Greenberg and Robert Baron's Behavior in Organizations (London, 1997), perceptual biases of stereotyping, which may distort the image of the target collective, and comparative examples of Islamic rhetoric from the period covering the Egyptian elections will be analyzed to demonstrate how Islamic factions took advantage of these perceptual biases to disparage the ‘West’ in the region and, at the same time, to gain more sympathy, support and legitimacy from the Egyptian people. Whilst there is a significant knowledge gap about Europe in the Arab world, clouded by generalization and stereotyping, the European Union likewise lacks accurate and up-to-date information about religious movements. Religious elites constitute a significant player in altering cultural perception in the Arab region. Pragmatism of politically active religious factions increases their impact on perception of the ‘Self’ and the ‘Other’.

Keywords: European Union, Middle East, Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), Islamic factions, cultural perception, perceptual bias, Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood

Research area: Research Area 2: The Dynamics of Normative Orders: Rupture, Change, Continuity
Research project:

DOI: 10.1080/17550912.2015.1079979
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