The Creating of Islamic Fundamentalists. The Muslim world in federal German politics and perception in the 1970s and 1980s
Associated PhD project
The PhD thesis concerned the perception of the Muslim world prevalent in West Germany from the 1970s to the 1990s. Beginning with an analysis of the oriental narratives about the Muslim world in the 1970s, the central part dealed with the perception of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and its aftermath. This is the period in which the image of Muslims was politicised in the West. The final chapter regarded the German perception of Muslims as more bellicose and radical. The Muslim communities in Germany were also considered here. However, the purpose of this thesis is not to tell a master narrative about a unilateral development of German perceptions of the Muslim world. Instead, alternative, feminist, sectarian as well as benevolent perspectives are intended to reveal the competing images. The theoretical approach to the subject is located in the field of constructionism. The images of Muslims were produced by certain agents, sometimes with certain interests. This thesis wanted to deconstruct the images and contextualise them in their historical setting. Furthermore, Edward Said’s Orientalism and Covering Islam offer the methodological basis for profoundly scrutinising the material. The application of this grounded theory ensures that my presuppositions do not overlay the statements made by the contemporary agents. The sources cover a broad range of material. The (non-)diplomatic communication between the German embassies in the Muslim world and the Foreign Ministry as well as further German federal and regional authorities allows strong insights into the perspectives of the political actors. The views of academics as well as non-fiction authors, like Peter Scholl-Latour, crucially shaped the depiction of Muslims. Especially the non-fiction authors influenced the societal perception by cooperating with the media. Besides other more dispersed sources materials, the analysis of media coverage enabled a more holistic view to be traced. In general, this thesis wanted to show that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 did not signify a caesura on a large scale, but rather that the narratives about Muslims had already emerged in the decades before the millennium.