Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Pew Poll of Muslims in America

Some of the findings were expected, such as degree of societal integration, while at least one finding, support for suicide bombings among younger Muslims, is very troubling. The findings that one would have reasonably expected from the poll are in fact there - "most Muslim Americans overwhelmingly reject [suicide bombings as a legitimate tactic] and are critical of Islamic extremism and al-Qaida." Further, Muslim integration into the fabric of American society is substantial. The poll found the "mainstream members express nearly as much happiness with their lives and communities as the general public does, show a broad willingness to adopt American customs, and have income and education levels similar to others in the US."

But, the poll "revealed noteworthy pockets of discontent." The most troubling finding is that one in four U.S. Muslims under 30 say suicide bombings are acceptable in some circumstances:

While nearly 80 percent of US Muslims say suicide bombings of civilians to defend Islam can not be justified, 13 percent say they can be, at least rarely.

That sentiment is strongest among those younger than 30. Two percent of them say it can often be justified, 13 percent say sometimes and 11 percent say rarely.

"It is a hair-raising number," said Radwan Masmoudi, president of the Washington-based Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, which promotes the compatibility of Islam with democracy.

. . . US Muslims have growing Internet and television access to extreme ideologies, he said, adding: "People, especially younger people, are susceptible to these ideas."

. . . US Muslims are far less accepting of suicide attacks than Muslims in many other nations. In surveys Pew conducted last year, support in some Muslim countries exceeded 50 percent, while it was considered justifiable by about one in four Muslims in Britain and Spain, and one in three in France.

. . . The poll briefly describes the rationales for and against "suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets" and then asks, "Do you personally feel that this kind of violence is often justified to defend Islam, sometimes justified, rarely justified, or never justified?"

The question did not specify where a suicide attack might occur, who might carry it out or what was meant by using a bombing to "defend Islam."

Those of all ages who backed at least some suicide attacks were about evenly divided between men and women, with support stronger from those who were born in the United States and less educated and those who attend mosques at least weekly.

In other findings:

Only 5 percent of US Muslims expressed favorable views of the terrorist group al-Qaida, though about a fourth did not express an opinion.

Six in 10 said they are concerned about a rise in Islamic extremism in the US, while three in four expressed similar worries about extremism around the world.

Yet only one in four consider the US struggle against terrorism a sincere attempt to curtail international terror. Only 40 percent said they believe Arab men carried out the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

By six to one, they say the US was wrong to invade Iraq, while a third say the same about Afghanistan - far deeper than the opposition expressed by the general US public.

Just over half said it has been harder being a US Muslim since the Sept. 11 attacks, especially the better educated, higher income, more religious and young. Nearly a third of those who flew in the past year say they underwent extra screening because they are Muslim.

Forty-seven percent said they consider themselves Muslim first, rather than American. Forty-two percent of Christians and 62 percent of white evangelical Protestants identified themselves primarily by their religion in earlier surveys.
The survey estimates there are roughly 2.35 million Muslim Americans. It found that among adults, two-thirds are from abroad while a fifth are US-born blacks.
Read the entire story here. You can find the actual poll here.Some questions that should have been asked were not. This includes questions about the sect of Islam practiced and whether there had been an increase in influence of Wahhabi / Salafi Islam in their mosque? Questions also should have been asked about availabity of and exposure to jihadi propoganda, whether through the mosque or other sources.


billm99uk said...

You've got to remember a lot of emigrants from Islamic nations leave specifically to get away from rule by Mullahs. That doesn't mean that their children and grandchildren aren't vulnerable to extremism. It'd be interesting to see how many US muslims are second and third generation compared to other countries for comparison purposes. My suspicion is you've less than most European countries at the moment, and that affects the figures. Then again, I might be wrong...

scott said...

Bill, you can get some idea from the actual pew poll site that I link. Its off to the right hand side. It looks like only about half polled were not first generation.

Your point about 2nd and 3rd generation are dead on point. We saw that with the Ft. Dix Six. Most of them were either 2nd generarion of 1 and 1/2 generation (born overseas, grew up in America). And I think what that shows is the spread of Wahhabi Islam taking over mosque over mosque in the West since the mid-80's.


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