Thursday, May 24, 2007

Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream

The first-ever, nationwide, random sample survey of Muslim Americans finds them to be largely assimilated, happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world.

The Pew Research Center conducted more than 55,000 interviews to obtain a national sample of 1,050 Muslims living in the United States. Interviews were conducted in English, Arabic, Farsi and Urdu. The resulting study, which draws on Pew's survey research among Muslims around the world, finds that Muslim Americans are
  • a highly diverse population, one largely composed of immigrants.
  • Nonetheless, they are decidedly American in their outlook, values and attitudes.
  • This belief is reflected in Muslim American income and education levels, which generally mirror those of the public.

While the findings are quite positive there are a couple of disturbing ones:
  • Muslim Americans reject Islamic extremism by larger margins than do Muslim minorities in Western European countries. However, there is somewhat more acceptance of Islamic extremism in some segments of the U.S. Muslim public than others. Fewer native-born African American Muslims than others completely condemn al Qaeda. In addition, younger Muslims in the U.S. (26 %) are much more likely than older Muslim Americans to say that suicide bombing in the defense of Islam can be at least sometimes justified. Nonetheless, absolute levels of support for Islamic extremism among Muslim Americans are quite low, especially when compared with Muslims around the world.
  • A majority of Muslim Americans (53%) say it has become more difficult to be a Muslim in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Most also believe that the government
    “singles out” Muslims for increased surveillance and monitoring.
  • Just 40% of Muslim Americans say groups of Arabs carried out those attacks.

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