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Divergent Perceptions of Muslim Americans on Being Stereotyped as Terrorists


Journal Abstract

Being labeled as terrorists has been one of the primary negative stereotypes used against Muslims in the USA. Muslim Americans are very diverse coming from different ethnic, historical, and cultural backgrounds. They belong to various religious schools of thought and practice, as well as branches of Islam. Differences among this diverse group stipulate different perceptions of being stereotyped as terrorists, which was at large ignored by previous research. I use data from the 2011 Pew Religion and Public Life Survey (N = 806), to analyze differences among various Muslim American racial/ethnic groups in perceptions of being stereotyped as terrorists. Black, Asian, and Hispanic Muslims report a few times lower odds of being viewed as terrorists than white Muslims (respondents having origins primarily in the Middle East or North Africa). Compared to conservatives, moderates and liberal Muslims are more likely to name ‘viewed as terrorists’ among the most important problem facing Muslims living in the USA today. Among acculturation and socio-demographic correlates, nativity was associated with being viewed as terrorists. Using the Muslim case, the study identifies different positions in perceptions of stereotypes and challenges the stereotypical approach of constructing a population identity as homogeneous.


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