Muslim study group surprised to find Alabamans don't hate Muslims

An academic version of NBC’s NASCAR stunt from a few years ago. They went looking for prejudice — and darned if they didn’t find it.

Hailey Woldt put on the traditional black abaya, expecting the worst…

“I expected people to say, ‘What is this terrorist doing here? We don’t want your kind here,’ ” said Woldt, a 22-year-old blue-eyed Catholic, recalling her anticipation before stepping into a local barbecue joint. “I thought I wouldn’t even be served.”

Instead, Woldt’s experiment in social anthropology opened her own eyes. Apart from the initial glances reserved for any outsider who might venture through a small-town restaurant’s doors, her experience was a pleasant one.

On her way to the bathroom, Woldt said, “One woman’s jaw dropped, but then she smiled at me. … That little smile just makes you feel so much better.”

A native Alabaman comments in the Headlines thread that he’d feel safer in Birmingham in a turban than in San Francisco in a Bush/Cheney t-shirt.