I was commissioned to write this report in March 2002 by a Saudi Arabian think tank. It was originally published on a Saudi website in English and in Arabic, and I was told at the time the Arabic translation had been given to members of the Saudi royal family. The report, which I wrote using online news databases while living in Bosnia, is basically a snapshot of American public opinion about Islam and Muslims in the 6 months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It was cited in a couple books (here and here) but has been offline for at least a decade and I recently discovered it after a lot of digging. I’m posting it for the historical value. To be clear, I wrote this over 16 years ago, so other than the accuracy of the data I don’t necessarily stand by the content or the quality of writing, but perhaps it’s of use to someone, and it’s an interesting artifact.
The report draws the following conclusions:
- Americans were divided on their feelings about Islam, and their opinions tended to shift significantly in short periods of time.
- While they professed a tolerance of Muslims in a general sense, a majority of Americans either wanted or were willing to accept special security measures that singled out Muslims.
- On the whole, the more that Americans knew about Islam, the more favorable their view of the religion.
- More than half of Americans and Europeans seemed to make a distinction between Islam and the ideas of some extremists, and believed that Muslims were distinct from those extremists.