Poll: Few Muslims feel U.S. alienation

Aug 30, 2011 Issues: Domestic Radicalization / Radicalization Hearings

Politico – by Tim Mak

There is no rising alienation or anger among American Muslims, despite a feeling that they are being targeted by anti-terrorism government programs, a comprehensive new poll found Tuesday.

The vast majority of Muslim-Americans surveyed by the Pew Research Center - 79 percent of respondents - rated their communities as “excellent” or “good” places to live.

Indeed, Muslim-Americans are more likely than two years ago to say that they are satisfied with the current direction of the country - 56 percent are satisfied, compared to 38 percent in 2007, according to the poll - one of the largest ever done on Muslim attitudes in the U.S.

“I was concerned about a bigger sense of alienation, but there was not,” Andrew Kohut, the president of the Pew Research Center, told the Associated Press. “You don’t see any indication of brewing negativity. When you look at their attitudes, these are still middle-class, mainstream people who want to be loyal to America.”

The survey comes after Rep. Peter King (R-Long Island) has been holding congressional hearings into what he sees as growing radicalization of Muslim-Americans.

The vast majority of Muslim-Americans condemned terrorism - 81 percent said that suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilians were never justified in order to protect their religion. 81 percent also expressed an unfavorable view of al-Qaeda, up from 68 percent in 2007.

The number of American Muslims who now believe that U.S. anti-terrorism policies as “sincere” efforts to reduce terrorism was greater than the number who thought the policies were “insincere” – 43 percent to 41 percent. In 2007, 55 percent of American Muslims viewed anti-terrorism efforts as insincere, and only 26 percent viewed them as sincere.

Only a small portion of those polled said they felt anti-Muslim bias in their everyday life. 28 percent said that they had been treated with suspicion; 21 percent said they were singled out by airport security; and 13 percent said that they were targeted by law enforcement officials.

However, problems still linger. A majority - 52 percent of those surveyed - said that that they feel government anti-terrorism programs singles them out for government surveillance. And 42 percent of Muslim-Americans said they had personally experienced harassment in the past year.

Roughly six percent of Muslim-Americans said that they had been physically threatened or attacked.

Further, 21 percent of respondents said that there is “a great deal” or “a fair deal” of support for extremism in their communities.

This the most extensive survey that Pew has ever conducted on Muslim attitudes, with 1,033 respondents.