Polling American Muslims

On May 22, 2007, in General, by Neil Stevens

The Washington Times reports of a poll conducted by Pew Research, that asked Muslims living in America a variety of questions about their religion as it relates to the rest of the country. If the poll can be believed, the results are horrific:

All quotes are from the Times:

Telephone interviews were conducted with 1,050 Muslim adults from January through April, including some in Arabic, Urdu and Farsi. Subjects were chosen at random from a separate list of households, including some with Muslim-sounding names, and from Muslim households that had participated in previous surveys.

One thousand out of an estimated two million, especially when the thousand were chosen with such guesswork, keeps this from being the most credible poll around, so I, for one, am not about to run around screaming about Muslims. I would not entirely discount this poll, though.

The Times‘s headline was based on this snippet:

Though nearly 80 percent of U.S. Muslims said suicide bombings of civilians to defend Islam cannot be justified, 13 percent said they can be, at least rarely.

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

But I think some of the other results are at least as disturbing:

  • Just 5 percent of U.S. Muslims expressed favorable views of the terrorist group al Qaeda, although about a fourth did not express an opinion.
  • Six in 10 said they are concerned about a rise in Islamic extremism in the U.S., while three in four expressed similar worries about extremism around the world.
  • Only one in four consider the U.S. war on terrorism a sincere attempt to curtail international terror. Just 40 percent said they believe Arab men carried out the attacks of September 11.
  • By six to one, they said the U.S. was wrong to invade Iraq; a third said the same about Afghanistan — far deeper than the opposition expressed by the general U.S. public.
  • Just more than half said it has been harder being a U.S. Muslim since the September 11 attacks, especially the better educated, higher income, more religious and young. Nearly a third of those who flew in the past year said they underwent extra screening because they are Muslim.

If it’s true that one of twenty Muslims in this country support al Qaeda, we’re in trouble. If it’s true that sixty percent of Muslims in this country are buying into 9/11-Bush conspiracy theories, we’re in trouble.

Can this poll be believed? This is an important question.


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