by Julius Dihstelhoff and Alexander Lohse
‘The West’ is a recurring theme in Egyptian political debates. It appears either as an abstract space, or particular ‘western’ countries are depicted as opponents. Such ascriptions are used by the government, and by myriad (secular and Islamist) political camps, which try to outdo each other in anti-western rhetoric. Criticism of ‘the West’ is instrumentalised in domestic political confrontations:opponents are accused of proximity to, or even being an agent of, ‘the West’ to exclude them from the political consensus. This paper investigates the depiction of ‘the West’ in Egyptian political discourse. It focuses on the discourses of both regimes and the Muslim Brotherhood since the 2011 Arab Spring. Firstly, we uncover certain historical continuities in anti-western rhetoric since 1954. Secondly, we analyse the dichotomous nature of this discourse on the side of Egyptian regimes and the Muslim Brotherhood (exempting the phase of Morsi’s presidency 2012-2013). The overall aim is to uncover internal and external differences in the discursive structures used by (and against) the different political actors and to contextualise their resentments against ‘the West’. The empirical basis consists of a cursory analysis of the Egyptian media and interviews held with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood.