This research project was commissioned by the Research and Documentation Centre (Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek- en Documentatiecentrum;
WODC), at the request of the Office of the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (Nationaal Coördinator Terrorismebestrijding
en Veiligheid; NCTV). This request was made following the developments in the Middle East since December 2010, when Tunisia
witnessed the first of a series of uprisings in the region that has since been dubbed the ‘Arab Spring’. These developments
do not only affect the Middle East itself, but also influence relations between the countries concerned and European states,
including the Netherlands. In part, these relations are transparent, for instance where diplomatic and trade relations are
concerned. However, there are other relations involved that are not as readily surveyed, such as mutual perceptions, i.e.
representations. It is of importance to have a thorough understanding of the way in which Europe - and in a wider sense, the
West - is perceived and understood by different populations and groups within the Arab world. In the interest of security,
a special concern for an up to date and profound understanding of hostile representations of the Western world - of which
the Netherlands is part - is legitimate.
The need for intelligence regarding this topic is readily explained. The manner
in which the West is depicted in the Arab world has been the subject of constant attention on the part of the NCTV. A markedly
negative perception of the West, expressing an aversion to it, may gain a protracted foothold in society, thus contributing
to the emergence or perpetuation of anti-Western sentiments. Any alterations in the existence of such sentiments may have
implications for the assessment of terrorist threats and counter-terrorism measures. For this reason, the NCTV will benefit
from gaining an insight into any possible alterations, be it radicalisation or moderation, in enemy stereotypes of the West.
The present research aims at offering said insight and intends to suggest whether or not an adjustment to the threat assessment
is in order, based on the data studied here.