So one of Reza Aslan’s ideas that he presented during his lecture was that the only way for non-Muslims to develop a positive idea about Islam is for them to interact with Muslims and see how normal we are. He quoted a survey done in the US that showed that people who had met a Muslim has a better image of Islam. While I can see how this would work in some cases, I don’t agree that interaction is the only issue.
Having lived in Holland for over a year now, I feel that not everyone develops a more balanced idea of Islam after meeting a Muslim. Many Dutch people I know interact with Muslims on a daily basis, or have at least met one at some point, and yet still have quite negative (even Orientalist) ideas about Islam.
I believe that when someone is invested in their way of thinking and their stereotypes, it is very difficult to change that, no matter how often they are confronted with contradictory evidence. For example, if an Islamophobe meets a “nice” Muslim, they might jst brush it off as an exceptional case.
What do you guys think? Do you think interaction with a Muslim is what will make people less anti-Islamic?