Analysts both in the Muslim and the Western world by and large agree that “fear” and lack of objective dialogue are the root cause of Islamophobia and Anti-Americanism. And while the debate on which one of the two ignited the other is still ongoing, one fact remains irrefutable: more people were victimized as a result of Islamophobia than the other way around.

A recent public opinion survey conducted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) indicates that Muslims are still viewed negatively in the U.S. There are estimated 7 million Muslims in America and over 50 thousand in Central Ohio alone- the majority being Somalis.

Among a number of questions raised in the survey, the open-end question “When you hear the word ‘Muslim,’ what is the first thought that comes to your mind?” had the revealed the most daunting reality that Muslims still carry the 9/11 burden. Six percent of those surveyed indicated positive perception as they offered response such “good religion,” “good people,” “faithful,” “devout,” “misunderstood.” On the other hand, twenty-six percent of them indicated to espouse negative perceptions about Muslims as they offered answers such as “violence,” “hatred,” “terrorists,” “war,” “guns,” “towel-heads” and “rag-heads.”

The irony is that this came at a time when Muslims in the U.S. and in the West were doing more outreach than ever before. Are the powerful engines that propel the “war on terror” blowing smoke of fear and distrust that ultimately hindered efforts toward building bridges of understanding?


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