Muslims face dehumanizing prejudice in U.S., scholar says

anti muslimAmerican Muslims often get the kind of treatment once reserved for blacks and Jews, dehumanized groups that also were the victims of racial and ethnic prejudice and violence, according to University of Georgia religion professor Alan Godlas.

But what many of us Americans think about Muslims stems from misinformation, from outright lies to just incomplete facts or errors in thinking, the religion professor said in a “Dialogue in Diversity”, sponsored by UGA’s Office of Institutional Diversity.

As a result, many Americans believe things that just aren’t true about Muslims, he said. Many people believe Islam is inherently violent, or anti-democratic, or that the religion oppresses women and is opposed to modern values.

As with those other dehumanized groups, Muslims are seen by many as something like savages or animals, frightening and threatening.

But a fundamental teaching of Islam is that people should strive to be kind and generous, he said.

The religion professor, himself a Muslim, recently talked with about three dozen UGA students and workers, gathered to discuss how people can actually use emotion and bias to learn and teach about Islam.