10:30 am EDT - 12:00 pm EDT

Past Event

U.S. Public Opinion Toward Arabs and Islam: How “The Video Incident” May Affect U.S.-Muslim Relations

Monday, October 08, 2012

10:30 am - 12:00 pm EDT

Brookings Institution
Falk Auditorium

1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC

This event was streamed live on

A provocatively offensive film and violent demonstrations protesting it have once again roiled the relationships between Americans, Arabs and Muslims. In both the United States and the volatile transition states of North Africa, popular reactions have been swift, severe and complicated by domestic politics. But beyond the partisan scorekeeping and the loudly raised voices, how have these recent events changed the way the American public views Arab and Muslim communities? Within the emerging democratic Arab states, how has the furor over the video altered the public debate regarding freedom of speech, civil liberties and other constitutional rights? Finally, how are these issues examined within the context of religious expression, pluralism and tolerance—values that are central to American identity?

On October 8, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy and the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at Brookings hosted a discussion on these questions and unveiled a new University of Maryland public opinion poll examining attitudes just days after violence erupted in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East. The poll, conducted by Nonresident Senior Fellow Shibley Telhami, gauges American public attitudes toward Arabs and Muslims and toward U.S. foreign policy in the region. Panelists included Brookings Senior Fellow William A. Galston, the Ezra K. Zilkha chair in Governance Studies; Hisham Melhem, Washington bureau chief of Al Arabiya News; and Telhami, principal investigator of the poll and the Anwar Sadat chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland. Senior Fellow Tamara Cofman Wittes, director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, moderated the discussion.

Participants can follow the conversation on Twitter using hashtag #USArabViews.

U.S. Public Opinion Toward Arabs and Islam: How "The Video Incident" May Affect U.S.-Muslim Relations