Negative Perceptions of Islam in US

The world is changing and it is becoming more anti-Islam – part of it has to do with racial stereotypes but a large part of it has to do with inability of the intellectuals amongst the “believers” to properly scrutinize and “question” some of their own beliefs! Are there any parts of Quran that may not be in tune with a peaceful world?

To give a blanket statement that everything about Quran is steeped in peace is ostrich-like for the world “outside” does NOT believe in it. There is NO book or Prophet or Saint whom I have read/heard who/which was consistent and perfect at every point (including Bhagwad Gita – which in my personal opinion is the most profound book I have read!). So it is inconceivable for me that either Bible or Quran is perfect in all respects. They are NOT and the sooner everyone realizes this the better it is for the mankind.

In any case it is important that the Muslim intellectuals start a reformation and take over the religion landscape as opposed to being herded by the extremists. Here is an article based on recent polls in the US on the perceptions on Islam and Muslims.

As the war in Iraq grinds into its fourth year, a growing proportion of Americans are expressing unfavorable views of Islam, and a majority now say that Muslims are disproportionately prone to violence, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The poll found that nearly half of Americans — 46 percent — have a negative view of Islam, seven percentage points higher than in the tense months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, when Muslims were often targeted for violence.

It is not only Islam as a whole but the Arabic individuals who are now in bad light because of their quiet and silent acquisence of what is going on without raising or protesting in a loud enough voice to be heard!

According to the poll, the proportion of Americans who believe that Islam helps to stoke violence against non-Muslims has more than doubled since the attacks, from 14 percent in January 2002 to 33 percent today.

The survey also found that one in three Americans have heard prejudiced comments about Muslims lately. In a separate question, slightly more (43 percent) reported having heard negative remarks about Arabs. One in four Americans admitted to harboring prejudice toward Muslims, the same proportion that expressed some personal bias against Arabs.

It is surprising that though the people who interact one-on-one with Muslims find them to be just fine.. .but when it comes to their perceptions on the group as a whole of the Muslim world or Islam then the views change drastically as is evident from this response:

As a school bus driver in Chicago, Gary McCord, 65, dealt with many children of Arab descent. “Some of the best families I’ve ever had were some of my Muslim families,” he said in a follow-up interview. “They were so nice to me.” He now works for a Palestinian Christian family, whose members he says are “really marvelous.”

But his good feelings do not extend to Islam. “I don’t mean to sound harsh or anything, but I don’t like what the Muslim people believe in, according to the Koran. Because I think they preach hate,” he said.

As for the controversial cartoons of Muhammad, he said Arabs seem hypersensitive about religion. “I think it’s been blown out of proportion,” he said.

What are we to make of it? Are we witnessing historical shifts in perceptions that will shape the future landscape of future state and military interventions? I think YES!

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