Islamophobia and American History

Religious Stereotyping and Out-grouping of Muslims in the United States
  • Kambiz GhaneaBassiri


American Anti-Muslim attitudes are as old as the United States. Through out its history, large segments of American society have identified Islam with tyranny, intolerance, misogyny, violence, sexual promiscuity, and heathenism. 2 These sentiments, however, remained latent in national politics and discourse until recently. 3 One is hard-pressed to find public opinion surveys that inquire into attitudes toward Muslims prior to 9/11. In one of these rare surveys conducted a few days before the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, one can see that the general public for the most part had little knowledge and interest in Islam at this time. When asked to give their impression of Islam, the majority (62 percent) said that they “haven’t heard enough to say” or they are “not sure.” Fourteen percent had favorable impressions and 22 percent had unfavorable impressions. When asked, “When you think of the religion of Islam, what comes to your mind?,” the respondents gave widely disparate answers, with the largest group (36 percent) indicating either “nothing” or “not sure.” The second largest group (21 percent) indicated “Mideast” or “Arabs.” When asked, if a second thing comes to mind about Islam, the overwhelming majority (80 percent) failed to mention anything. 4


National Identity American History Religious Minority Favorable Opinion Public Opinion Research 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Carl W. Ernst 2013

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  • Kambiz GhaneaBassiri

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