Op-Ed: "Reflections in a Cracked Mirror: Islam and West" by Iman Kurdi

June 26, 2006

Source: Arab News


On June 26, 2006 Arab News ran an opinion piece by columnist Iman Kurdi, a Saudi writer living in London. Kurdi writes, "This week has seen the publication of the latest opinion poll by the Pew Global Attitudes Project. People in 13 countries — Egypt and Jordan were the two Arab countries included — were asked about their views of Westerners and Muslims. Views is too strong a word; this is the kind of poll that takes a pulse rather than a full medical history. For instance respondents were asked to indicate whether they have a favorable opinion of Jews, Christians, Muslims and Arabs. It's the kind of question that is too vague to have any meaning... What this kind of question is good at is picking up baseline prejudice. Common sense predicts that we should rate most people at least somewhat favorably; it is only when we feel threatened that the balance tips the other way. Within the backdrop of the ongoing Middle East conflict, it is not surprising that Muslims in the Middle East rate Jews almost uniformly negatively, even if this is based on the erroneous assumption that Jew equals Zionist. The most interesting — and in my view encouraging — finding of this survey is that Muslims in France do not succumb to this prejudice, they were the only Muslim population surveyed where unfavorable views of Jews were not prevalent... The survey included four European countries — Britain, France, Germany and Spain — in which they also polled a Muslim subpopulation. The French Muslims, just like the French non-Muslims, showed themselves to be the most tolerant of these four subgroups. They had the highest favorability ratings for both Christians and Jews and also associated more positive traits with Westerners."