"Do Americans know Islam? Not really," a Commentary by John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed

April 8, 2008

Author: John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed

Source: The Daily Star


Winning hearts and minds - the Bush administration, foreign policy wonks, even the US military agree this is the key to any victory over global terrorism. Yet the American public diplomacy program has made little progress on improving the United States' image. Few seem to recognize that American ignorance of Islam and Muslims has been the flaw.

How much do Americans know about the views and beliefs of Muslims around the world? According to polls, not much. Perhaps not surprising, the majority of Americans (66 percent) admit to having at least some prejudice against Muslims; one in five say they have "a great deal" of prejudice. Almost half do not believe American Muslims are "loyal" to this country; and one in four does not want a Muslim as a neighbor.