Conflict between groups does not arise in a vacuum. To the
contrary, conflicts- especially those that are enduring and
seemingly intractable- are embedded in an information-rich context,
often with a long and complicated history characterized by multiple
forces operating at different levels of analysis (economic,
political, religious, interpersonal). Yet participants and outside
observers are rarely overwhelmed by such complexity and ambiguity,
adopting instead a coherent depiction of the conflict, often with
an unequivocal allocation of blame to one side or the other. While
we may know the final judgments of third party observers, it is not
always clear how people arrive at these judgments. This work
attempts to explain why people arrive at vastly different
conclusions regarding blame when observing an ambiguous and complex
situation of conflict. More specifically, it looks at popular
misconceptions and stereotypes of Islam and seeks to explain how
anti-Muslim prejudice has come to strongly influence perceptions of
blame in real-world conflicts involving Arabs or Muslims.
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