Threatening or Marginalized 9 Despite the existence of fair representations and discourses, the wide- spread stereotypical portrayals of the followers of Islam have success- fully established Muslims as the “other.” This perception remains widely intact even though the Muslim population in the West has grown dras- tically. According to a report published by the Pew Research Center (2017a), it was projected that the growth of the Muslim population may triple the present number in some European countries. The persistence of the West to retain the highly stigmatized image of Muslims reflects a form of obsession and willingness to cling to the radicalized Orientalist interpretation of the “Muslim” identity (Malcolm, Bairner, & Curry, 2010 Obaidi et al., 2020). Although the Orientalist framework is inherently stereotypical in that it explains the Muslim identity from the “outside,” the reason it is extremely problematic is that it constantly instills and reinforces the notion of “us” versus “them.” As we discussed in the previous section, religion on its own is also feeding among its followers the in-group bias so, when there are tremendous external forces constantly imposing the “otherness” of a religious identity, the in-group bias becomes stronger, often leading to damaging psychological impacts especially on diaspora communities. The Orientalist depiction of Muslims as barbaric, oppressive, and unciv- ilized continues to inform the perception of the West. The media has had its fair share of propagating and exaggerating the view that the existence of Muslims in Western society is an undeniable threat to that society. In North America, for instance, the mainstream media has retained a par- ticular angle of portraying Muslims in the post-9/11 era, most of which focuses on how the presence of Muslims threatens the freedom and values of the citizens (Eid & Karim, 2011). Various studies on the perception of Muslims in the West have identified these perceptions as based on labels that deem Muslims as exploitative, dangerous, illegal, ungrateful, and so on (Eid, 2014). It is also important to note that Muslims and Muslim cultures are asso- ciated with negative social and cultural stereotypes, which can lead to negative emotions and outcomes for this population (Anjum, Kessler, & Aziz, 2019 Anjum, Kidd, & Aziz, 2018). Research in social psychology of group dynamics and group emotions has indicated some of the pitfalls for negative group emotions. Group emotions, the common emotions of members belonging to the same group (see Anjum et al., 2018 Barsade & Gibson, 1998). Group emotions have significant outcomes for the group’s perception, their identity, and their functioning (Anjum, Aziz, & Cas- tano, 2019). Even research outside the bounds of cross-cultural comparisons have indicated that the prevalence of more positive emotions (i.e., higher posi- tive group affect) leads to lower conflict and more cooperation (Barsade, 2002 Totterdell, 2000). Conversely, higher prevalence of negative group affect, that is, more negative emotions, has been associated with lower
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