Local view: Muslims must dispel growing fear of Islam

· United States
Authors

Source / Courtesy:  The News Tribune

By M. Imran Hayee: A professor and director of graduate studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

On the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, what can Muslim-Americans do to help alleviate their fellow citizens’ growing fear of Islam?

Jihad!

No kidding. The true Islamic Jihad, in fact, goes hand in hand with alleviating the fears of Americans.

To find out why, let’s explore the origin of the problem first. Although many believe the events of Sept. 11, 2001, instantly shaped Americans’ perception of Islam, polls indicate Americans gradually developed their opinion of Islam during the past decade. Shortly after Sept. 11, only 14 percent believed Islam encouraged violence. A decade later, a Pew poll finds that 40 percent of Americans now believe Islam is more likely than any other religion to encourage violence.

What caused more Americans to negatively view Islam as time passed after Sept. 11?

Some blame the media.

According to a 2010 Time magazine poll, 62 percent of Americans claim to have never met a Muslim. Instead, Americans shape their views of Muslims from what they observe in the media. We all remember what happened during this past July 22 when America learned about the horrific massacre of nearly 70 innocent youths in Norway. Many of us heard that pundits from all major networks and prominent newspapers, including the New York Times and Washington Post, wrongly anticipated an al-Qaeda connection.

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