Events and Value Change: The Impact of September 11, 2001 on the Worldviews of Egyptians and Moroccans
Moaddel M, and Abdel-Latif A. 2006. “Events and Value Change: The Impact of September 11, 2001 on the Worldviews of Egyptians and Moroccans.” Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion 2, Article 5: 1-48.
The significance of a historical event depends largely on the meaning it carries for the social actors it has the potential to affect. That meaning is not haphazardly produced but rather is structured by the nature of the political and cultural context in which the social actors are embedded. That meaning determines whether and how individuals and entire societies reexamine their attitudes toward and beliefs about historically significant issues. We tested this proposition by examining how the attitudes of Egyptians and Moroccans were affected by the terrorist act perpetrated by al-Qa’ida on September 11, 2001, which was ostensibly carried out not only to avenge the presumed trauma Muslim nations have suffered because of the American-led “Jewish-Crusade alliance,” but also to rally the Islamic publics behind al-Qa’ida’s banner for the construction of an Islamic state. Based on survey data, our findings indicate that these publics displayed more favorable attitudes toward democracy, gender equality, and secularism after 9/11 than they did before. Accordingly, the event influenced the attitudes of the Egyptian and Moroccan publics in ways contrary to those intended by the radical Islamists. Some effects were also moderated by the respondents’ age, education, and gender. We discuss how these results contribute to the growing body of literature on the role of events in historical and social processes.