U.S. Muslims happy with their country despite pressure, study finds
More than half of American Muslims say it’s harder to be a Muslim in America since the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.
August 30th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

U.S. Muslims happy with their country despite pressure, study finds

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

People look at Zeinab Chami a little warily sometimes, she says, especially when she travels outside big cities.

She started wearing a headscarf when she was in her early 20s, making herself "a visible Muslim."

That "can really be an emotional strain," she says.

Life is getting harder for American Muslims, she says, given the media's portrayal of Muslims, the false perception that President Barack Obama is Muslim, and the rise of the tea party, whose most vocal leaders, according to Chami, "spew vitriol against anyone perceived to be 'foreign.'"

And yet, she says, American Muslims are "lucky."

"I have Muslim friends who are from every ethnic background. It's easier to get to the true spirit, the true practice of Islam," in the United States. It's easier for a Muslim woman to get a postgraduate education in America, and the American sense of civic-mindedness jibes with Muslim teaching, she says.

"When people see a clash of civilizations, they are wrong," she says.

Chami - a 27-year-old educator working with a nonprofit to improve teens' math and reading skills in Michigan - is typical of many American Muslims, a new survey suggests.

Many American Muslims feel singled out by government anti-terror policies; significant minorities have been called names or had their mosques attacked; and most say it's harder to be a Muslim in the United States now than it was before September 11, 2001.

And yet the vast majority say their communities are very good places to live, that Americans are not hostile toward Muslims, and that American Muslims have a better quality of life than Muslims elsewhere, the survey of more than 1,000 American Muslims has found.

Support for Islamic extremism is not rising among Muslim Americans, who are much less likely to support terrorism than Muslims in many other countries, according to the study by the Pew Research Center in Washington.

Seven out of ten American Muslims have very unfavorable views of al Qaeda, while only 5% have favorable or somewhat favorable views.

Chami puts it bluntly: "Everybody hates al Qaeda - hates, hates, hates. There is real hatred because of the atrocious attacks and because the blowback on the community affecting us."

The lack of support for extremism "makes these perceptions about Muslims in America kind of ironic," Chami says ruefully.

But Rep. Pete King, R-New York, who has been chairing high-profile congressional hearings about the radicalization of U.S. Muslims, argued that the Pew study "was not as positive as it might seem."

"Seventy percent of American Muslims are opposed to al Qaeda. We are at war with al Qaeda. One hundred percent should be opposed to al Qaeda," he said.

He's not worried about the radicalization of the community as a whole, he said: "I've always said the majority of Muslims are good Americans. My concern is the small number of Muslims who can be radicalized."

"Al Qaeda is attempting to recruit, and we can't hide from it. If they can recruit 15 or 20 or 30 people, that's what we're talking about. There were 19 hijackers on September 11," he said.

And while he acknowledges that the percentage of American Muslims who trust the government's anti-terror efforts is rising, he says it's still not high enough.

"Only 43% think that government anti-terrorist efforts are sincere. If 57% don't think they're sincere, then when the FBI comes into their communities, they're not going to cooperate with those efforts. I think that's worrying," he said.

The survey shows that American Muslims are much less likely to support terrorism than their co-religionists in the Middle East.

Four out of five say suicide bombing and other violence against civilians is never justified. That's a significantly higher percentage than Muslims in five Middle Eastern countries and territories surveyed by the Pew Global Attitudes Project earlier this year.

And although six out of 10 express some worry about the possible rise of Islamic extremism in the United States, only two out of 10 believe there is much support for extremism today.

Just under half of American Muslims say U.S. Muslim leaders have not spoken out enough against extremism, while one in three say they have.

The survey came against the background of a number of controversies touching the American Muslim community, ranging from King's hearings to the debate over plans to build an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan.

Even so, American Muslims have positive views of the United States now, and they are getting more favorable over time, the survey found.

American Muslims are far more likely to believe that the United States is sincere in its efforts to fight terrorism now than they were four years ago, the study says.

Just under half of them say American efforts are sincere, many more than believed it in 2007, when George W. Bush was president.

The rising level of trust comes even though half of all American Muslims believe that they're being singled out for increased surveillance and monitoring, the study says.

The feeling that it's harder to be a Muslim in America since the September 11, 2001, terror attacks has held steady since 2007, with just over half expressing the view in each survey.

About one out of five Muslim Americans say they've been called offensive names in the past year, and about the same number say they've been singled out by airport security.

And many feel that their own leaders are not doing enough to fight Islamic extremism, according to the study, a joint project of the Pew Research Center for People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

The researchers spoke to 1,033 Muslim Americans between April 14 and July 22, doing telephone interviews in English, Arabic, Urdu and Farsi.

Asked whether they consider themselves Muslims or Americans first, half of the respondents said Muslim, a quarter said American, and the rest either said both equally or that they didn't know.

American Christians, by way of comparison, split right down the middle. Just under half say American, just under half say Christian, and less than one in ten chooses either both or "don't know."

Zeinab Chami, the educator, chose a different answer.

"I would say I consider myself a human first, and I live my life according to that," she said. "We're all the human family, and that happens to be a very Islamic point of view. My loyalty is to God, then humanity. Not God, then country - God, then humanity."

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Islam • Polls • United States

soundoff (915 Responses)
  1. Johnny Quest

    Rabble rabble rabble!!! Dang Aye-Rabs better keep away from my yung 'uns and my Mayonnaise sandwiches! Now excuse me as I tell the internet how I feel and make up some credintials, cause I'm always right and everyone should know it...RAbble rabble rabble!!

    September 8, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  2. Den

    Does the koran tell these stupid missfits of mankind to strap on explosives when they are unhappy about something?

    September 8, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Johnny Quest

      Nope...that's the anti-Muslims of Al-Qaeda (see what I did there)?

      September 8, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  3. A Theist

    Ok I did a little bit of Googling and I found the actual study. You can go to it directly here:

    There are some interesting stats there that CNN left out–positive and negative.

    September 2, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  4. Rainer Braendlein

    Mohamed Atta

    (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to: navigation, search)

    Mohamed Atta
    Born Mohamed Atta
    (in Arabic: محمد عطا)
    September 1, 1968(1968-09-01)
    Kafr el-Sheikh, Egypt
    Died September 11, 2001(2001-09-11) (aged 33)
    Manhattan, New York, United States

    Alma mater: Cairo University, Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg

    Religion: Sunni Islam

    Mohamed Mohamed el-Amir Awad el-Sayed Atta (Arabic: محمد محمد الأمير عوض السيد عطا‎, Muḥammad Muḥammad al-Āmir ‘Awaḍ as-Sayyid ‘Aṭā) (September 1, 1968 – September 11, 2001) was one of the masterminds and the ringleader of the September 11 attacks who served as the hijacker-pilot of American Airlines Flight 11, crashing the plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center as part of the coordinated attacks.[1][2][3][4]

    Born in 1968 in a small town in Egypt's Nile Delta, Atta moved with his family to the Abdeen section of Cairo at the age of 10. Atta studied architecture at Cairo University, graduating in 1990, and continued his studies in Hamburg, Germany at the Technical University of Hamburg. In Hamburg, Atta became involved with the al-Quds Mosque, where he met Marwan al-Shehhi, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, and Ziad Jarrah, together forming the Hamburg cell. Atta disappeared from Germany for periods of time, spending some time in Afghanistan, including several months in late 1999 and early 2000 when he met Osama bin Laden and other top al-Qaeda leaders. Atta and the other Hamburg cell members were recruited by bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for the "planes operation" in the United States. Atta returned to Hamburg in February 2000, and began inquiring about flight training in the United States.

    Atta arrived in the United States, together with Marwan al-Shehhi, in June 2000. Both ended up in south Florida at Huffman Aviation where they entered the Accelerated Pilot Program. Atta and Shehhi obtained instrument ratings in November 2000, and continued training on simulators and flight training. Beginning in May 2001, Atta assisted with the arrival of the muscle hijackers. In July 2001, Atta traveled to Spain where he met with bin al-Shibh to exchange information and finalize the plot. In August, Atta traveled on surveillance flights to determine details on how the attacks could be carried out.

    In early September 2001, Atta traveled to Maryland, where fellow hijacker Hani Hanjour was at the time. Atta then traveled to Boston, and on September 10, with Abdulaziz al-Omari to Portland, Maine. On the morning of September 11, Atta and Omari traveled on Colgan Air back to Boston, where they boarded American Airlines Flight 11. Fifteen minutes into the flight, the team of hijackers attacked and Atta took over control of the aircraft. At 8:46 a.m., Atta crashed the Boeing 767 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.[5]

    September 1, 2011 at 6:49 am |
    • Johnny Quest

      So can we just hate that guy instead of over a billion people for what he did?

      September 8, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  5. Rainer Braendlein

    Al-Quds Mosque Hamburg

    (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

    Al Quds Masjid Hamburg

    Basic information:

    Location St. Georg, Hamburg,

    Hamburg Germany

    Geographic coordinates 53°33′25″N 10°01′10″E / 53.55694°N 10.01944°E / 53.55694; 10.01944 Coordinates: 53°33′25″N 10°01′10″E / 53.55694°N 10.01944°E / 53.55694; 10.01944

    Affiliation Islam

    Architectural description:

    Architectural type Mosque

    Architectural style backyard

    Completed 1993

    Al-Quds Mosque Hamburg (Arabic: مسجد القدس, meaning "Jerusalem", or Masjid Taiba مسجد طيبة) was a mosque in Hamburg, Germany that preached a radical form of Sunni Islam. Al-Quds is where some of the September 11 attackers including Mohamed Atta, attended and met one another, forming the Hamburg cell.[1]

    History: The mosque opened in 1993, and was run by the Taiba German-Arab Cultural Association.[2] It occupied a three-story building near the Hauptbahnhof rail station in a red-light district, in the St. Georg section of Hamburg.[3]

    Unlike many other mosques in Hamburg which cater to Persians and the Turkish population, al-Quds served Hamburg's smaller Arab population.[4] Under leadership of Iman Mohammed al Fizazi, the mosque preached a radical version of Sunni Islam.[3] Other leaders at the mosque have included Sheik Azid al Kirani.[3]

    The prayer room for men is carpeted, located on the first floor, and can accommodate up to 400. It is one of the Masjids with a radical interpretation of Islam and its practice, namely the way of the Salaf As-Salih.[3]. On Fridays, the mosque usually had around 250 in attendance.[5]

    2010 shut down

    The mosque was shut down by German security officials in August 2010 amid suspi-cion that the mosque was again being used as a meeting place for Islamic extremists involved in the 2010 European terror plot.[6] [7][8] German authorities discovered that 10 members of the mosque had traveled to the border region of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Shahab D., an Iranian at the mosque, had joined the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.[5]

    September 1, 2011 at 6:42 am |
    • Johnny Quest

      Okay...you have a reference, and rudimentary knowledge of Microsoft commands for copying and pasting...but what's your point?

      September 8, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  6. Achbar Achmad

    Why don't immigrant Muslim to come and learn something except nuclear, we would very happy to teach you. And then please go back and develop your own country with your sharia law. Don't pushed us to receive your sharia law. We had seen enough in Middle East about how sharia law improve middle east to stone ages.

    September 1, 2011 at 2:40 am |
    • Johnny Quest

      The point of the article is that most Muslims do NOT want to force Sharia law. The problem is those small percentage of miscreants, calling themselves Muslims (even though they aren't) are the one's who do so.

      September 8, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  7. Achbar Achmad

    "My loyalty is to God, then humanity. Not God, then country – God, then humanity."

    My loyalty to Allah, then humanity on sharia version, and then to United States of America. What a pathetic!

    September 1, 2011 at 2:36 am |
    • Johnny Quest

      That is a pathetic excalamation point. Unless you forgot the noun in your last sentence.

      September 8, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  8. CrystalRiver

    The West has freedom and sanity because of Christian education. Happy Muslims should bring liberty to the infidels in all the Islamic land. Unlike Christians,' happiness of pagans are meaningless to humanity. Christians fight for everyone's liberation; pagans get con-tented in their own little happiness. Some pagans made difference by carrying out the Judeo-Christian values that they had learned. It's been that way everywhere in the world.

    September 1, 2011 at 1:34 am |
    • Fred1

      Christians weren’t much of a force for sanity in Rwanda. Didn’t one of the pastors open up his church as a sanctuary to the TuTsis and then locked them inside and burned down the church?

      September 1, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Johnny Quest

      You're right...that's why it is happening now across the middle east.

      September 8, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  9. John Does

    If you were happy, why immigrate into west?

    September 1, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  10. TO Jones

    Muslims places of worship are being attacked in the US?? Really??
    The Muslim faith is the most smothering and violent in current existence. Non-Muslim places of worship are burned to the ground in Muslim countries. Saudi Arabia has 0 churches or synagogues in their country. I think being a non-Muslim in a Muslim country would be a whole lot more intimidating.

    August 31, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • John Does

      Thats why we taught western not to let immigrant Muslim come into their countries. We aere so wrong in long ttime ago to lert them come in peace by immigrant reasons. Now they forced us to accept Sharia Law.

      September 1, 2011 at 12:15 am |
  11. Brandon

    If Rep. Pete King cares about the radicalization of a minority of Muslims, he should also care about the radicalization of a minority of Christians, some of whom *have* practiced terrorism by murdering abortion providers.

    August 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • John Does

      Muslim Radicals kell worldly body for dominate the world.If you dont want to be a Muslim, they will kell you.
      Christian RAdicals kell worldly mind for introduce love into the world. If you dont want to be a Christians they won't kiel you.

      September 1, 2011 at 12:13 am |
  12. RightTurnClyde

    T h e . .M u s l i m s . .h a d . .a . .b i g . .b r a w l . .a t . .a n d . .e a s t . .c o a s t . .p r i v a t e . .e s t a b l i s h m e n t . .( n o t . .g o v e r n m e n t . .o w n e d ) . .b e c a u s e . .t h e y . .w e r e . .t o l d . .t h e . .w o m e n . .c a n n o t . .w e a r . .b u r l a p . .b a g s . .o v e r . .t h e i r . .h e a d . . . . .H e y ..i f . .y o u . .c a n n o t . .f o l l o w . .t h e . .r u l e s . .d o n ' t . .g o . .t h e r e . . . . .T h e y . .w e r e . .n o t . .r e f u s e d . .s e r v i c e . . . .b u t . .t h e i r . .i n s u r a n c e . .d o e s n ' t . .c o v e r . .w e a r i n g . .a . .b a g . .o v e r . .y o u r . .h e a d . .( d u h ) . . . . .T h e y . .p r o b a b l y . .d o n ' t . .a l l o w . .y o u . .t o . .t a k e . .y o u r . .c a m e l . .o n . .t h e . .r i d e . .e i t h e r . . . . .. . . .o r . .y o u r . .A K 4 7 . . . . .S O . .w h y . .g o . .t h e r e ? . . . .S t a y . .h o m e . .a n d . .s h o o t . .y o u r . .r i f l e s . .i n . .t h e . .a i r . .f r o m . .y o u r . .b a c k . .p o r c h . .. . . . . .a n d . .s i n g . .y o u r . .t o w e r . .s o n g . . .Ah . lodie oh doo.. ooolie oolie geee.. haw ma alw

    August 31, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Actually, I think it is owned by the government: http://parks.westchestergov.com/

      August 31, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  13. MaybeAgnosticMaybeNot

    Muslims say Mohomad was the messenger, Christiians say Jesus was the messenger. Based on the way both sides act it doesn't apear anyone actually got the message.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • RightTurnClyde

      Christians do not say Jesus was a messenger. You don't kno a thing about it so ..that's all just bathery Bee Ess

      August 31, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • MaybeAgnosticMaybeNot

      Maybe not, but the Bible does: "'Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,' says the LORD of hosts" (Malachi 3:1).

      August 31, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • John Does

      This Malachi 3:1 "My messenger" is John the Preacher (The Baptist) that voiced loud in the middle of desert to prepare the coming of Jesus Christ as the Lord, whom we seek.

      Looks you dont know nothing about bible. LOL

      September 1, 2011 at 12:09 am |
  14. Rainer Braendlein

    Primary note: According to Christ's command we are supposed to love even our enemies. Hence, we are supposed to love our Muslim neighbours.

    Love makes us free to assess things objectively.

    I would never say that any current ordinary Muslim is evil, but regretably it is true that Muhammad was evil, even wicked.

    It is interesting that the Koran has survived like the Bible. Obviously the Koran accords with historical reality like the Bible, otherwise the Koran had not bee kept be the Muslim people or Umma (Muslim community).

    It is sure that the historical Muhammad accords with the Muhammad of the Koran.

    The Koran was drafted by Muhammad. He tells every true believer (Muslim) that yet Abraham had been a Muslim leader (no matter what the Bible says). Even Moses and Jesus had been Islamic leaders. Regretably the pupils (ordinary believers) of Abraham, Moses and Jesus turned apostate from the true belief (Islam). This apostates are Jews and Christian. Jews and Christians have turned apostate from Abraham's genuine belief.

    You can call someone j e r k, d o r k, m o r o n, t i t, but you let him live. But it is much worse to call someone apostate, because by that you refuse any right to live for him or her.

    Back to history: Muhammad indeed conducted aggressive war and his successors (the Caliphs) continued. Muhammad and the Caliphs attacked guiltless Christian countries, which belonged to the Eastern Roman Empire Byzantium. They raided Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Asia Minor (today Turkey), etc.. Later the Muslims even attacked Spain, France, Italy, Austria, etc..

    Every human being knows that aggressive war is always wicked or evil. Aggressive war cannot be justified at all. Of course even the ancient Turks and Arabs knew that. But Muhammad comforted their consciences by telling them that the people, which they raided, were apostates or infidels. It is allowed to slay infidels.

    Dear Muslim fellow citizen, are you actually aware that your prophet was a tyrant or criminal? Sorry, that is the historical truth.

    When Muslims want to be accepted as true democrats they must start to discuss with us about the Koran and Muhammad. As long as the Muslims are not honest, regarding Muhammad and the Koran they are disqualified (from democratic world).

    Regarding the crusades: The crusades were chiefly caused by the wicked popes. From 607 a. D. onward the Roman Catholic Church corrupted more and more, because the tyrant Phocas had made the Roman See the highest one on earth, which is blaspheming. This development peaked in the crusades.

    The crusades have nothing to do with Christianity. It is an absolute nonsense to say, like Muslims conducted the Islamic conquests, Christians conducted the crusades. The popes of the time of the crusades were no Christians. Jesus had never conducted aggressive war. Jesus saved souls and cured people.

    August 31, 2011 at 8:05 am |
    • Fred1

      Of course the crusaders were Christian. The catholic church, with its pope, was the only Christianity in Europe at the time of the crusades

      September 1, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Johnny Quest

      Pics or it didn't happen. 😀

      September 8, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  15. dark matter

    your god now is arrested but d other allies are not 4-10-2012 is d starting of hearing end 2018 in crishtian are called final judgement what will you do now dont say d god is only one we have a different creature or disigner muslim crishtian jews buddhist dragon and other we have a different creature ,look at d dog or monkey both of this have a different design character and other dont say d blk people is a brother of white or in automobile for example ferrari is a brother kia motor thats why jesus is here to teach u all also d wrong cristian then 4-10-2016 then jesus entered to d cabinet of d god this god is not your creature or my creature or the other creature dont tell we have only 1 god d different are only riligion that is wrong we have i god but d crature are different wake up amercan muslim u have 6 yrs to open your eyes or much better to stay there cause we need to reduce d living life here cause our planet are very small d other cristian are moving to d other planet how about your group only brother hood its useless god now are very close to our solar system d other are d inside of our solar system or much better to die cause that is paradise yes the teach of d muslim is right allah will bring u to heaven same of your god its right yes its true allah knows what will happen to her you living in d heaven without life a DUST

    August 31, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • Conway193

      Gods do not exist and never did. This includes anything you believe in, farthead.

      August 31, 2011 at 4:59 am |
    • Johnny Quest

      Go also provides punctuation to those who are true believers.

      September 8, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  16. CrystalRiver

    Happy Muslims should bring liberty to the infidels in all the Islamic land. Unlike Christians,' happiness of pagans are meaningless to humanity. Christians fight for everyone's liberation; pagans con-tend in their own little happiness. Some pagans can make difference by carrying out the Judeo-Christian values. It's been that way everywhere in the world.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • CrystalRiver

      Stop slandering me you fake. You're just one of those stupid atheists trying to make me look crazy. On judgment day, you will have to answer to Christ, who is with me.

      September 2, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  17. CSX

    Those poor Muslims. 70% support Obama. 90+ % of blacks support Obama.

    Life is like a game. 100% of real Americans do not support Obama's policies.

    Why mention the Tea party like the rise of the Nazi party? Why mention real Americans that love the country and want the government to live in a balnced bidget is so wrong?

    August 30, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • PDEngineer

      Maybe if you believe really, really hard, the "fake" Americans will just poof away!

      August 31, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • Johnny Quest

      What is a real american? Is there a secret handshake?

      September 8, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  18. Muslim is Peace Maker

    Mohammed was creator of Koran, not allah:


    August 30, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
  19. John


    August 30, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  20. Resa

    I think it's cool that the comments here are so much more intelligent than the comments you see in the NYTimes....Rock on Proletaria! 😛

    August 30, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.