What is most interesting about this seeming confusion between the imagined and the real, between reading and seeing, is the extent to which the former so often takes precedence over the latter. This, in turn, reflects the primacy in Western thought of the expert “text” – philological, anthropological, theological, etc. – over any lived experience or personal observation of the Muslim world. In fact, whenever observation or experience on the part of the travel writer, the memoirist, or the diplomat conflicts with textual evidence, the prevailing narrative dictates that the text almost certainly wins. Today, we see this in the myopia that plagues most Western news reporting and analysis from the Muslim world.
Jonathan Lyons, guest column for Informed Comment, Islam, Women, and the West