All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Joseph D Wolfe

Advisory Committee Members

Magdalena Szaflarski

Mieke B Thomeer

Bulent Turan

Sylvie Mrug

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2019

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

A growing body of research has focused on the experiences of Arab Americans post-9/11. These studies have been conducted to investigate the relationship between ethnic discrimination and mental health among Arab Americans. However, these studies show some gaps. Specifically, no study has explored the differences between Muslim and Christian Arabs after the 9/11 attacks in terms of religion, including how religious attendance influences the levels of psychological distress and discrimination among the two religious groups. This paper is dedicated to exploring religion (religious affiliation and religious attendance) as a key factor to understand the different levels of psychological distress and the experiences of discrimination between Muslims and Christian Arab Americans. Drawing on social identity theory, the significance of this study is that it will be the first to examine the association between religion, psychological distress, and discrimination among Muslim and Christian Arabs, and whether these associations are moderated by religious attendance. This study uses Detroit Arab American Study (DAAS) 2003, a face-to-face interview conducted with Arab Americans living in the greater Detroit metropolitan area. This study is comprised of a sample of 806 respondents including 546 Christians (59%) and 380 Muslims (41%). Multivariable linear regression analyses were estimated to test the study hypotheses. Results indicated that there was no significant difference in the psychological distress levels between Muslim and Christians Arab Americans. On the other hand, the relationship between religious affiliation and psychological distress among Arab Americans was moderated by religious attendance. Muslim Arab Americans who attend mosque more often report higher levels of psychological distress compared to Christian Arab Americans who attend church often. Furthermore, the analysis suggests that Muslim Arab Americans generally experience more discrimination than Christian Arab Americans. On the other hand, there was no difference in levels of experiences of discrimination between Muslim and Christian Arab Americans in the presence of all religious attendance factors. Also, there were no differences in experiences of discriminating across the age groups among both Muslim and Christian Arab Americans. Regardless of the limited support for some hypotheses, this study suggests that both religious and ethnic identity may relate to experiences of discrimination which may negatively impact Arab Americans’ mental health. Future studies should adopt an expanded and diverse category of Arab American based on the country of origin; the Middle East and North African (MENA) to examine the differences in experiences of discrimination and well-being based on religion, race, age, socioeconomic status, and the origin.

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