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Fall of orientalism

Arab and Islamic scholarship is dying in the west. Edward Said must share the blame

By Robert Irwin   February 2006

How do we know what we think we know about Islam and the Arabs? Movies and novels have long been a rich source of misinformation and eloquent prejudice. Novels like Eric Ambler’s The Levanter, Frederick Forsyth’s The Key to Rebecca and Daniel Easterman’s The Last Assassin, as well as films like Cast a Giant Shadow, Jewel of the Nile and Operation Condor have fed on and refuelled such prejudice. Arabs and Muslims commonly feature as terrorists, religious fanatics, drug dealers, pimps and so on. In the course of the last 50 years or so they have replaced the Nazis as…

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