Robert Wright explains the roots of American Islamophobia in the New York Times. See, we just don't have enough exposure to Muslims.
The good news is that bridging does seem to work across religious divides. Putnam and Campbell did surveys with the same pool of people over consecutive years and found, for example, that gaining evangelical friends leads to a warmer assessment of evangelicals (by seven degrees on a “feeling thermometer” per friend gained, if you must know).
And what about Muslims? Did Christians warm to Islam as they got to know Muslims — and did Muslims return the favor?
That’s the bad news. The population of Muslims is so small, and so concentrated in distinct regions, that there weren’t enough such encounters to yield statistically significant data. And, as Putnam and Campbell note, this is a recipe for prejudice.
So, in Europe, where there are many millions of Muslims, they must be much more popular than they are here in America. Right, Mr. Wright?
My general impression from comparing areas that are home to Muslims and nonMuslims is that Islam seems to contribute to a chip on the shoulder attitude on the Muslim side. Armenians are pretty friendly, but Chechens, well, I'm glad a lot of Chechens hasn't started moving into my neighborhood ... yet.
Western tourists prefer Bali, the Hindu island in Indonesia to the many Muslim Islands.
Are there other examples of this tendency?