Anti-Western sentiment

Anti-Western sentiment, also known as Anti-Atlanticism or Westernophobia, refers to broad opposition, bias, or hostility towards the people, culture, or policies of the Western world.[2][3]

Samuel P. Huntington argues in the Clash of Civilizations theory that after the Cold War, cultural differences between the West and other civilizations would be the main source of conflicts.[1]

Definition and usageEdit

In many modern cases, anti-Western sentiment is fueled by anti-imperialism, particularly against countries that are "deemed guilty for colonial crimes of the past and present," such as Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. Anti-Western sentiment occurs in many countries, including the West– especially European countries. Broad anti-Western sentiment also exists in the Muslim world against Europeans and Americans. Anti-American sentiment stems from US support for Israel, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and numerous sanctions against Iran.[4]

Samuel P. Huntington argues that, after the Cold War, international conflict over economic ideology would be replaced with conflict over cultural differences.[1] His "Clash of Civilizations" argues that economic and political regionalism will increasingly shift non-Western countries towards geopolitical engagement with countries that share their values. He argues that Muslim population growth simultaneous to a growth in Islamic fanaticism is leading to a rejection of Westernization.


Democratic Republic of the CongoEdit

Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba blamed the Western world for imperialism. On 1 August 1960, he "gave a speech that indicated in no ambiguous terms that the United Nations, its Secretary-General, the United States, and the Western powers were all corrupt entities."[5] During the Congo Crisis, Lumumba received support from the Soviet Union, which contributed to his overthrow and execution by the Western-backed Mobutu Sese Seko.

When Mobutu became leader of the Congo, he renamed the country Zaire and created the national policy of Authenticité or Zaireanization, which aimed to remove all Western cultural influence from the country.

In 2001, anti-Western sentiment skyrocketed in the Congo following the assassination of Congolese president Laurent Kabila, with many Congolese citizens blaming the Western world for his death.[6]


Anti-Western sentiment broadly expressed in Ethiopia during the Tigray War as result of resentment over pressure in internal politics and request over resolution of the conflict.[7] On 30 May 2021, a pro-government rally took place in Addis Ababa to protest an international pressure denouncing "Western intervention" and US economic and security assistance sanctions. Protestors also waved banners supporting the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project.[8] On 22 October 2022, tens of thousands protestors took a demonstration in Addis Ababa's Meskel Square, whereas the other cities in Ethiopia, including Bahir Dar, Gondar, Adama, Dire Dawa and Hawassa also hosted similar demonstration to denounce the intervention.[9]


Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana, had a staunch anti-Western stance and blamed the United States for many of Africa's difficulties.[10]


In northeastern Nigeria, the name of the Islamic group Boko Haram translates to "Western education is forbidden" or "Western civilization is forbidden."


Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe used anti-Western rhetoric in his speeches, and he implemented policies that seized farmland from white European farmers.[11]


Mainland ChinaEdit

Anti-Western sentiment in mainland China has been increasing since the early 1990s, particularly among Chinese young adults.[12] Notable incidents which have resulted in a significant anti-Western backlash have included the 1999 NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade,[13] the 2008 demonstrations during the Olympic torch relay,[14] and alleged Western media bias,[15] especially in relation to the 2008 Tibetan unrest.[16] While available public opinion polls show that the Chinese people view the United States in a positive light, there remains suspicion over the West's motives toward China stemming largely from historical experiences, specifically the "century of humiliation."[17][18]

These suspicions have been increased by the Chinese Communist Party's "Patriotic Education Campaign".[19] Although Chinese millennials are largely apathetic to politics, China's Gen Z now has an unprecedentedly low opinion of the West and "Western values" since the Chinese economic reforms of the 70s.[citation needed] Young Chinese have grievances such as the Western alienation of Chinese tech companies, anti-East Asian racism, anti-Chinese propaganda, and pressure on China's internal affairs, among other issues. In a study conducted by Toronto University in April 2020, 4 out of every 5 Chinese under 30 years old said they do not trust Americans.[20][21]


There is a history of criticism of the so-called West within the intellectual history of Japan.[22]


Although opinion polls suggest positive views towards Western countries today, anti-Western sentiments were common in early 20th century India due to the Indian independence movement.[23]


Lee Kuan Yew, the former Prime Minister of Singapore, argued that East Asian countries such as China, East Timor, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam should be based on "Asian values."[24] In other words, countries such as the Four Asian Tigers should aspire to have Western-style standards of living without accepting liberal democratic social institutions and principles.

Middle EastEdit


Together with political Salafis, jihadists (also called Salafist jihadists) view Christian Europe as a land inhabited by infidels (Dar al-Kufr). For jihadists, this makes Christian Europe a just target for armed jihad, e.g., acts of war or terrorist attacks. Jihadists refer to such lands as Dar al-Harb (lands of war).[25] Jihadists themselves motivate their attacks in two prominent ways: to resist Western/Christian military intervention in Muslim countries and to discourage perceived insults against Islam such as the Muhammad Cartoons.[26]

John Calvert writes that in their critique of the West, Islamists quote Western thinkers like Alexis Carrel, Oswald Spengler, Arnold J. Toynbee, and Arthur Koestler.[27]

Terrorist groups al-Qaeda and ISIL/ISIS are said to be both anti-Western. They have been known to promote terrorism in Western countries, including Russia.[28]


During the Ottoman period of Turkish history, a tradition of anti-Westernism developed.[29][30]



Russian President Vladimir Putin with religious leaders of Russia, 2001. Putin has promoted religious traditionalism and the rejection of some Western liberal principles, like toleration of homosexuality.

Anti-Western sentiment in Russia dates back to the 19th century intellectual debate between Westernizers and Slavophiles. While the former deemed Russia to be a lagging Western country, the latter rejected these claims outright and viewed Western Christendom as 'rotten'. An important anti-Western figure during the reign of Alexander III of Russia was Konstantin Pobedonostsev, a former liberal who eventually renounced and thoroughly criticized his former views.

Under the Soviet Union, 'the West' eventually became synonymous with 'the capitalist world', resulting in the appearance of the famous propagandist cliché 'corrupting influence of the West'.

After the Cold War, a number of politicians in the Russian Federation have supported an explicit promotion of Russian Orthodox traditionalism and a rejection of Western liberalism. Some ultra-nationalist politicians, such as the late Vladimir Zhirinovsky, express the most anti-Western sentiment.

Vladimir Putin has promoted explicitly conservative policies in social, cultural and political matters, both at home and abroad. Putin has attacked globalism and neoliberalism[31] and promoted new think tanks that stress Russian nationalism, the restoration of Russia's historical greatness, and systematic opposition to liberal ideas and policies.[32] Putin has collaborated closely with the Russian Orthodox Church in this cultural campaign. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, head of the Church, endorsed his election in 2012, stating Putin's terms were like "a miracle of God."[33][34] The Russian Orthodox Church is known to host groups that promote nationalist and anti-Western tendencies.[35][36]

The Russian government has restricted foreign funding of some liberal NGOs. Pro-Russian activists in the former Soviet Union frequently equate the West with homosexuality and the gay agenda.[37] The 2013 Russian gay propaganda law was welcomed by nationalist and religious political figures in Russia as a bulwark against Western influence.[citation needed]

The Yarovaya Law prohibits evangelism by religious minorities. It was used to ban the United States-based Jehovah's Witnesses.[38]

Samuel P. Huntington in Clash of Civilizations controversially classifies Russia and the rest of Orthodox Europe as a different civilization from Western civilization.

Latin AmericaEdit

Anti-Western sentiment exists in Latin America, especially in countries where the population consists mostly of Native Americans, such as Bolivia, Guatemala or Peru.[39] On the other hand, in countries like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay, Europeans are more represented in the population. Consequently, there are many Latin Americans who identify as Westerners, so the anti-Western discourse is therefore not as prominent as in other regions. That is not to say, however, that there is no anti-Western discourse. Indeed, it can be found in countries with nationalist and populist leaders or movements, including left-wing political parties in Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua or Venezuela.[40] In recent years, Latin American nations have increasingly turned away from the United States and Europe.[41]

Anti-US and anti-European sentiments are related to the history of American and European political interventions in Latin America. Many people in the region lay sharp criticism on the United States for supporting Cold War era coups and right-wing anti-communist dictatorships. Most Latin American countries tend to be more regional, focusing on internal cooperation. Accompanying this is a notable distrust of globalization.[42] Latin American organizations like Mercosur, Prosur and Unasur are strong groups that represent this aspect of Latin American foreign policy.

Samuel P. Huntington in Clash of Civilizations controversially classifies Latin America as a different civilization from Western civilization.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Huntington, Samuel P. (1 June 1993). "The Clash of Civilizations?". Foreign Affairs. 72 (3): 22–49. doi:10.2307/20045621. JSTOR 20045621.
  2. ^ "Definition of ANTI-WESTERN". Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  3. ^ "anti-Western | Definition of anti-Western in English by Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford Dictionaries | English. Archived from the original on 1 December 2018. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  4. ^ Abdul-Ahad, Ghaith (14 September 2012). "Anti-western violence gripping the Arab world has little to do with a film". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  5. ^ Frindéthié, Martial K. (2016). From Lumumba to Gbagbo : Africa in the eddy of the Euro-American quest for exceptionalism. Jefferson, N.C. ISBN 9781476623184.
  6. ^ "Congo Anti-Western Sentiment Grows". AP NEWS.
  7. ^ Adem, Seifudein. "Why Ethiopia Should Trust the West". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 22 June 2022.
  8. ^ "Ethiopians protest against US over Tigray". Retrieved 22 June 2022.
  9. ^ "Tens of thousands rally in Ethiopia to support govt campaign against rebels, denounce US". France 24. 7 November 2021. Retrieved 22 October 2022.
  10. ^ "Kwame Nkrumah and the United States — A Tumultuous Relationship". Association for Diplomatic Studies & Training.
  11. ^ "Diaspora Mugabe Supporters and the Limits of a Neocolonial Pan-Africanism". OkayAfrica. 18 October 2016.
  12. ^ "Anti-western sentiment flourishes in China". ABC. 24 April 2008. Retrieved 8 June 2009.
  13. ^ Peter Hays Gries (July 2001). "Tears of Rage: Chinese Nationalist Reactions to the Belgrade Embassy Bombing". The China Journal. Canberra, Australia: Contemporary China Center, Australian National University. 46 (46): 25–43. doi:10.2307/3182306. ISSN 1324-9347. JSTOR 3182306. OCLC 41170782. S2CID 145482835.
  14. ^ "Protests against 'Tibet independence' erupt in cities". China Daily. 19 April 2008. Retrieved 23 May 2009.
  15. ^ "Looking past Western media bias against China". China Daily. 28 February 2008. Retrieved 7 June 2009.
  16. ^ Bristow, Michael (25 March 2008). "China criticizes Western media". BBC News. Retrieved 7 June 2009.
  17. ^ "Hope and Fear: Full report of C-100's Survey on American and Chinese Attitudes Toward Each Other" (PDF). Committee of 100 with assistance from Zogby International and Horizon Research Consultancy Group. 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 November 2008. Retrieved 8 June 2009.
  18. ^ Peter Ford (17 April 2008). "Chinese vent anti-Western fury online". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 8 June 2009.
  19. ^ Zhao, Suisheng: "A State-led Nationalism: The Patriotic Education Campaign in Post- Tiananmen China", Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 31, No. 3. 1998. pp. 287–302
  20. ^ "As attitudes to the West sour, China's students turn home". The Economist. 21 January 2021. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2 November 2021.
  21. ^ "It's a generational thing: China's youth leading nation away from US culture". South China Morning Post. 20 March 2021. Retrieved 2 November 2021.
  22. ^ Aydin, Cemil (9 July 2007) - The Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia: Visions of World Order in Pan-Islamic and Pan-Asian Thought Columbia University Press pp. 1–2 ISBN 0231510683 part of Columbia Studies in International and Global History Accessed 1 July 2017
  23. ^ "Anti-Western alliance".
  24. ^ "Human Rights and Asian Values | Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs". Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  25. ^ "Muslimska församlingar och föreningar i Malmö och Lund – en ögonblicksbild". Lund University CMES. 2010. Archived from the original on 22 January 2021.
  26. ^ "Military Interventions, Jihadi Networks, and Terrorist Entrepreneurs: How the Islamic State Terror Wave Rose So High in Europe". CTC at West Point. March 2019. Archived from the original on 22 March 2019.
  27. ^ John Calvert, Islamism: A Documentary and Reference Guide, 2008, p. 38
  28. ^ Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars - Al Qaeda v ISIS: Ideology & Strategy Accessed 1 July 2017
  29. ^ Aydin, Cemil (9 July 2007) - The Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia: Visions of World Order in Pan-Islamic and Pan-Asian Thought Columbia University Press p.2 ISBN 0231510683 part of Columbia Studies in International and Global History Accessed 1 July 2017
  30. ^ Finkel, Caroline (19 July 2012) Osman's Dream: The Story of the Ottoman Empire 1300-1923 Hachette UK, ISBN 1848547854 Accessed 1 July 2017
  31. ^ Sergei Prozorov, "Russian conservatism in the Putin presidency: The dispersion of a hegemonic discourse." Journal of Political Ideologies 10#2 (2005): 121–143.
  32. ^ Marlene Laruelle, "The Izborsky Club, or the New Conservative Avant‐Garde in Russia." Russian Review 75#4 (2016): 626–644.
  33. ^ Julia Gerlach and Jochen Töpfer, ed. (2014). The Role of Religion in Eastern Europe Today. Springer. p. 135. ISBN 9783658024413.
  34. ^ Andrew Higgins, "In Expanding Russian Influence, Faith Combines With Firepower," New York Times Sept 13, 2016
  35. ^ Darmaros, Marina (23 April 2012). "The Russian Orthodox Church won't be silent". Russia Beyond The Headlines. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  36. ^ Aleksandr Verkhovsky, "The role of the Russian Orthodox Church in nationalist, xenophobic and antiwestern tendencies in Russia today: Not nationalism, but fundamentalism." Religion, State & Society 304 (2002): 333-345.
  37. ^ Applebaum, Anne (28 March 2014). "Anne Applebaum: Russia's anti-Western ideology has global consequences". The Washington Post.
  38. ^ "Russia Authorities Move To Ban Jehovah's Witnesses As Extremists". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty.
  39. ^ Da Mata, Janaina. "Nunca mais a Bolívia sem os povos indígenas" (PDF). Revista Repositório. UFMG. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  40. ^ De Galíndez, Jesus (1955). "Anti-american sentiment in Latin-America". Journal of International Affairs. JTOR. 9 (1): 24–32. JSTOR 24355569. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  41. ^ Bernard, L.L. (1928). "Why South America Fear Us". The North American Review. JSTOR. 226 (6): 665–672. JSTOR 25110634. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  42. ^ Patriota, Antônio. "Brasil e a cooperação sul-sul" (PDF). FUNAG. Brazilian government. Retrieved 13 February 2022.