Contextualizing Events in Imagined Communities

Pre- and Post-September 11th Egyptian Attitudes toward Non-Arabs and Jews

in Sociology of Islam
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The ongoing denigration of Arabs in the media, the Western democratic political shifts away from Muslim religious freedom, and increasing anxiety about Muslim radicalization prompt the question: How do Arabs respond to global events when the Muslim and Western worlds are perceived to clash? Our study draws on the theory of imagined communities to examine the extent to which exogenous world events influence attitudes towards out-group members in the Egyptian context. We apply a “pre-post” quasi-experimental design using the World Values Survey, and examine the influence the events of September 11th, 2001 had on Egyptian perceptions of Jews and non-Arabs. Results suggest that intolerance towards both Jews and ethnic minorities decreased after the attacks. Results also suggest a complex, dynamic association between religiosity and tolerance towards out-group members. We conclude by discussing the theoretical contributions of this paper by highlighting the significance of context and religion when framing imagined communities.

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