July 25, 2002
CONTACT: Pamela Young
CHANGING ATTITUDES IN MIDDLE EASTERN
HOPE FOR FEARFUL AMERICANS, SAYS EMU EXPERT
YPSILANTI - After interviewing subjects in the Middle East, both pre- and post-Sept. 11, Eastern Michigan University sociology professor Mansoor Moaddel sees evidence that anti-American sentiment and support for terrorist activities may be decreasing.
"In all Arab countries, Islamic fundamentalists are on the defensive. We are seeing that many Arabs are no longer choosing to side with religious extremism," said Moaddel. "Perhaps Osama bin Laden thought that once they attacked the United States, the rest of the Arab world would rise up in support of Al-Qaeda. Instead, we see secularists in Egypt and elsewhere, including the government press, raising serious issues and criticism of Islamic groups."
Moaddel partnered with the National Science Foundation in 2000-01 to study world views and attitudes of Islamic publics in Egypt, Iran and Morocco. With the pre-Sept. 11 data, Moaddel visited the Middle East shortly after Sept. 11 and charted a rise in Arab pro-democratic thinking. Moaddel presented his findings, "A Post-Crisis Analysis of the Attitudes and Value Orientations of the Islamic Publics in Egypt, Iran and Morocco," to a congressional briefing in Washington, D.C.
Moaddel's July, 2002, research trip to Egypt provided additional examples of attitudinal changes in the Middle East. They include:
Gamaa Islamiya's announcement to its followers that deeper study into Islamic teaching provides no religious justification for the group's violent past.
Reports in the Egyptian government weekly "Al Mussawar" that leaders of the militant Islamic group Gamaa Islamiya now renounce terrorist activities. The group claimed responsibility for the assassination of former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.
Gamaa Islamiya's condemnation of Osama bin Laden and the Sept. 11 attacks.
Moaddel specializes in culture and ideology of the Middle East; Middle Eastern politics and governments; and the future of Islamic fundamentalism and its effects on the United States. He is the author of five books, with a sixth, tentatively titled "Episodes and Discourse: Islamic Modernism," under review, and more than 40 articles. "September 11 and the Future of Islam" is an article in progress. Moaddel is available for interviews at 734.487.0162.
A graduate of Shiraz University in Iran, Moaddel received a doctorate in sociology from the University of Wisconsin and a master's degree from Western Michigan University.
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