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U.S. Muslims’ Views on Islamic Extremism (2011)

Document type:
Report

    U.S. Muslims’ Views on Islamic Extremism (2011)

    Commentary

    In multiple surveys, Muslims in the United States have expressed reservations about the increased scrutiny directed at them since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, from negative media portrayals to being “singled out” by the police. But when compared with other Muslim populations, American Muslims have consistently rejected extremist positions, while demonstrating a greater willingness to assimilate into and engage mainstream culture. In a poll from the Pew report Muslim Americans: No Sign of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism (excerpted below), Muslims expressed concern for extremism abroad while showing little support for it. As the report states, American Muslims claiming a “very unfavorable” view of al Qaeda rose from 58 percent in 2007 to over 70 percent in 2011 (compared to 38 percent in other surveyed populations). Over 80 percent of American Muslims reject violence as a means of protecting Islam (compared with a median of 55 percent among the predominantly Muslim countries). The numbers fluctuate, however, when factoring in the cultural background of a respondent; overall, native-born African Americans who identified as Muslims tended to lean closer to extremist views than others surveyed.

    Islamic Extremism: Widespread Concern, Minimal Support

    Foreign born Native Born
    U.S. Muslims (percentage) All (percentage) Mideast/N. Africa (percentage) All (percentage) Black (percentage)
    Concern about possible rise of Islamic extremism in the U.S.?
    Very/Somewhat 60 53 52 73 78
    Not too/Not at all 35 40 40 26 21
    Don’t know 5 7 8 1 1
    How much support for extremism among Muslims in the U.S.?
    Great deal/Fair amount 21 15 13 32 40
    Not too much/None at all 64 66 67 63 53
    Don’t know 15 19 20 5 7
    Suicide bombing can be justified. . .
    Often/sometimes 8 7 9 11 16
    Rarely/Never 86 84 79 88 84
    Don’t know 6 9 12 1 0
    View of al Qaeda
    Very unfavorable 70 75 75 62 56
    Somewhat unfavorable 11 9 8 15 21
    Favorable 5 3 2 10 11
    Don’t know 14 14 15 13 12
    Adapted from “Islamic Extremism: Widespread Concern, Minimal Support,” in Muslim Americans: No Sign of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism, p. 1. Pew Research Center, 30 August 2011. http://www.people-press.org/2011/08/30/muslim-americans-no-signs-of-growth-in-alienation-or-support-for-extremism/

    Islamic Extremism: Widespread Concern, Minimal Support

    Foreign born Native Born
    U.S. Muslims (percentage) All (percentage) Mideast/N. Africa (percentage) All (percentage) Black (percentage)
    Concern about possible rise of Islamic extremism in the U.S.?
    Very/Somewhat 60 53 52 73 78
    Not too/Not at all 35 40 40 26 21
    Don’t know 5 7 8 1 1
    How much support for extremism among Muslims in the U.S.?
    Great deal/Fair amount 21 15 13 32 40
    Not too much/None at all 64 66 67 63 53
    Don’t know 15 19 20 5 7
    Suicide bombing can be justified. . .
    Often/sometimes 8 7 9 11 16
    Rarely/Never 86 84 79 88 84
    Don’t know 6 9 12 1 0
    View of al Qaeda
    Very unfavorable 70 75 75 62 56
    Somewhat unfavorable 11 9 8 15 21
    Favorable 5 3 2 10 11
    Don’t know 14 14 15 13 12
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