Is the Muslim anti-Western prejudice due to ignorance, or is it the consequence of a very selective view of Western society?
Jalees Rehman in Guernica:
A recent international Pew Research Center report (PDF), with the innocuous title “Muslim-Western Tensions Persist,” discusses the extent of Muslim anti-Western prejudice. The report summarizes the results of a survey of Western stereotypes of Muslims living in predominantly Muslim countries such as Indonesia, Egypt, and Pakistan. A median of 68% of the Muslim respondents associated “selfish” with Westerners, while only a median of 35% of non-Muslims living in countries such as Great Britain, the United States, or Germany associated “selfish” with Muslims. One could conceivably attribute anti-Western hostility to the fact that Muslims living in predominantly Muslim countries may not have come into personal contact with Westerners. After all, this Pew survey report did not provide data about the attitudes of Muslims living in the West. However, an earlier Pew Research Center report released in 2006 titled “The Great Divide: How Muslims and Westerners View Each Other” (PDF) also surveyed Muslims living in European countries and offered a fairly bleak picture of the anti-Western prejudice among European Muslims. Muslims in Britain had an especially negative response, as 69% of those surveyed attributed three or more negative traits such as “greedy,” “selfish,” “arrogant,” or “immoral” to Westerners. This antagonistic attitude was in sharp contrast to the comparatively positive views of the non-Muslim general public in Britain, of whom only 30% attributed three or more negative traits to Muslims.
The “selfish” or “greedy” traits attributed by Muslims in Britain to Westerners are especially noteworthy, since the majority of the top-ranking ranking countries in terms of charitable behavior, as measured by the World Giving Index of the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) (PDF), happen to be countries that are typically associated with “Western culture,” such as Australia, Canada, Switzerland, USA, or Great Britain.