A poll of Muslim Americans released last Tuesday by The Pew Research Center found them largely integrated and content with mainstream American society.
However, despite their general moderation, Muslim Americans held distinctly different views than the American public on several issues.
Only 40 percent of the US Muslim community believe that the 9/11 attacks were committed by Arabs. 5 percent of US Muslims stated that they had a favorable view of Al-Qaeda.
They overwhelming oppose the war in Iraq (75 percent opposed vs. 12 percent supportive) and are sharply divided over military action in Afghanistan (48 percent opposed vs. 35 percent supportive).
They strongly opposed the use of suicide bombing. Only 8 percent said they believed suicide bombings were often or sometimes justified while 83 percent declared them rarely or never justified.
Muslims under 30 were more likely to hold radical views than their elders. 9 percent of young Muslims held a favorable opinion of Al-Qaeda and 26 percent believed suicide bombings were often or sometimes justified.
They were also significantly more religious than their parents, with greater mosque attendance (50 percent under 30 attend mosque weekly compared to 35 percent of those over 30) and they are more likely to identify themselves as highly religious.
Social indicators showed US Muslims were at near parity with the American public by most measures. US Muslims mirrored Americans as a whole in education, income, and overall happiness. Given that 39 percent of US Muslims have immigrated to the US after 1990, this is an impressive and rapid feat of integration.
However, discrimination remains a problem in the Muslim community. One-third of US Muslims reported experiencing an act of discrimination towards them within the last year.
Despite lingering prejudice, US Muslims were categorically more economically and socially integrated and less radical than their European counterparts.
Reactions to the poll have been mixed. While some have been comforted by the wide-scale Muslim American integration, others have decried the poll results as disturbing.
Ahmed Badeir, executive director for the Tampa center for the Council of American Islamic Relations, America’s largest Muslim advocacy group, said on MSNBC last Thursday The number of people who said they favor Al-Qaeda is less than 5 percent and within the margin of error of the survey.
“We see it as a tiny percentage that s really insignificant, but let s face it, one person favoring Al-Qaeda is one too many to have and we have to do a better job, Muslims and non-Muslims, to make sure that the youth or whoever has favorable views of Al-Qaeda no longer exists.
In general however, he stressed that these numbers are consistent with other Americans throughout the country.
However, Zuhdi Jasser, chairman of the Arizona-based American Islamic Forum for Democracy told The Washington Times, We should be disturbed that 26 percent of these young people support an ideology in which the ends justify the means.
Steve Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, said on CNN Headline News Wednesday that this poll shows that “the U.S. public or the U.S. politicians have been in denial. The U.S. media has been in denial.
Emerson added that, “There’s a certain political correctness going on here.