Document Type

Senior Thesis

Publication Date



The threat of terrorism perceived by the American public has been shaped by a series of traumatic events over the past decade. In the years following the attacks of September 11, 2001, fear of terrorism has extended beyond the threat of terrorist groups. Much of the American public considers not only terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, but the entire religion of Islam to be a security threat. In much of this security discourse, ideas of hatred, violence, and terror have become associated with Islam. This study explores that association, and aims to identify what motivates existing stereotypes. Drawing on research from the Chapman University Survey of American Fears, we will analyze responses to suspicion and public approval of increased security, in order to evaluate the relationship that exists between fear and the religion of Islam. We will consider the perceived nature of Muslim people among the American public, and the stereotypes which have contributed to the construction of Islamophobia. Though Americans are divided in their feelings towards the religion of Islam, there does appear to be a strong connection between the fear of terrorism and trust in Muslim people.