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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. DrBakroChod

    Warning........ Muslims are wating for critical mass to demand Muslim homeland in USA. Announcement will come with Big Bang

    August 30, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • Normon

      I think the insects will take over first, or maybe the Alpha Centaurians. It'll be close.

      August 30, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  2. Olga

    F. muslims. I am sick of hearing from them.

    August 30, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • Ahhhhhh

      F Olga

      August 30, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • CrazyPete

      Strange. They love hearing from you. It must be your sunny disposition and baby blue eyes.

      August 30, 2011 at 9:52 am |
  3. charms

    [Warners'] CNN often panders to Islam but blasts Christianity. I recall one of the first articles on Time magazine soon after 9/11 was "The True Face of Islam"...painted as a religion of peace that's been hijacked. I hate to say this but I prefer fox news on matters of religion because they aren't afraid to tell the truth about sharia, jihad, taquia, mass murder, etc that the Islamic faith upholds. Trust a muslim at your own risk. They will always have this ill toward you no matter how much you think you know them. I'm talking about moderate muslims that quietly celebrate 9/11. Go figure.

    August 30, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Martin T

      Imagine if CNN's Faith Blog ONLY carried stories that the Right Wing Christians wanted to hear... BORING!!!! and you can bet those articles would NOT get thousands of comments..

      August 30, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • Noxx

      because christianity is so pure lol.

      August 30, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • CrazyPete

      Yeah, I know what you mean. My best friend for 10 years was Muslim and I loved him like a brother but he secretly hated me and was jealous of my relationship with Jesus Christ and one night he murdered me in my sleep and sacrificed my still beating heart to his god. He also didn't take off his shoes when he came in my house. I hate Muslims.

      August 30, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • Ahhhhhh

      Gee, I wonder why people blast Christianity? I wonder why someone would want to write an article about other religions? My guess is because morons like you think that all Muslims are terrorists and can't be trusted. You're doing a good job of showing why Fox News is mostly bullsh!t rhetoric to scare the crap out of stupid people.

      August 30, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • charms

      @Ahhhhh you are an idiot on hyperdrive. Re-read my comment very carefully before you infer you B/S.
      @crazypete: get off that crack you are on lol

      August 30, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • I know, right!

      CrazyPete: Nice!

      August 30, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  4. Wicket

    According to the article, 3 out of 10 American Muslims have a favorable or somewhat favorable view of al Qaeda?! Wow, that seems like a lot of potential al Qaeda supporters; I wonder what those numbers would look like if you asked Canadian Muslims?

    August 30, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Scott

      No, 7 out 10 was "very unfavorable". Most surveys have a range or responses from very favorable to favorable to neutral to unfavorable, etc. While there is probably some fraction out there that is "favorable" to al-Queda, it is not the rest of the 3 out of 10.

      August 30, 2011 at 9:52 am |
    • Ahhhhhh

      Wicket, you forgot to read the very next sentence where the study put the number at 5% those who have a favorable or somewhat favorable view. The very next sentence; let's try and focus here.

      August 30, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • Jon

      The article states that only 5% of those polled have favorable or somewhat favorable fews of Al Qaeda. You incorrectly inferred that because 70% said they weren't in favor that the other 30% were in favor. Opinions aren't always black and white.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  5. DrBakroChod

    In Muslims, watch out for Paki. They are dangerous. Paki are all infected with Islaamic virus. So untill treament becomes available ,............. Better safe than sorry.

    August 30, 2011 at 9:38 am |
  6. jorge washinsen

    We have given enough. The only reason these articles are written is to take the pulse for J Edgar and their snoops courtesy of CNN.

    August 30, 2011 at 9:38 am |
  7. dre

    "Seven out of ten American Muslims have very unfavorable views of al Qaeda, while only 5% have favorable or somewhat favorable views" – Dear American Muslims, Sorry, but it's hard to be sympathetic to your plight in America when you can't get 100% of your people to think Al Qeada is bad.

    August 30, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • Ahhhhhh

      It's hard to be sympathetic to your plight in America when you say such stupid things.

      August 30, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • Laughing

      tell me,

      When have you ever been able to get a 100% of people on board for anything?

      Think about it, Al Quada exists to further the muslim cause, albeit in some pretty grusome ways, but the idea in principle matches with a muslim outlook. It's the same reason why we have a senator who supports the IRA because it furthers catholic values.

      Methinks you're a little islamophobic

      August 30, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • dre

      Laughing...getting 100% to agree that cherry pie is good is one thing, getting 100% to agree that murder and mayhem is bad is another. You have a strange outlook and apparently very little regard and respect for human life.

      August 30, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • Ahhhhhh

      dre – so then 100% of all Americans agree that going to war against another country is always bad, correct? you tool.

      August 30, 2011 at 9:52 am |
    • James

      Can you get 100% of "your people" (whoever they are) to agree that the KKK is bad?

      August 30, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • dre

      Ahhhhh – let me ease out of my depression caused by your insult. There, that's better. If you don't see the difference between the Muslim cause that condones killing of innnocent women and children, and a war between countries, good luck to ya. You pinhead :>

      August 30, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • dre

      James – Yep, I'm Jewish

      August 30, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • Laughing

      dre

      now I'm doubly sad, but not surprised. I'm jewish (well an atheist jew) too and I think it's our role more than anything else to bridge the hatred and try and reach a commonality between muslim and jews especially. Look at our own community, do you support the ADL? What about J St. (Neither of these condones the killing of others I know, but just humor me), What about the all jewish run neighborhoods in brooklyn? Lastly, do you support the IDF? Just think about it for a moment, Al Qauda, for better or worse, does support the cause of Islam and tries to spread it, some people view that principal as a good thing. We might find it abhorrent, but if you try and look at it from a different perspective you maybe can understand the "enemy" a little better and actually find a way to bridge the gap

      August 30, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • dre

      Laughing – point well made and noted.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  8. reverence in prayer

    Heads bowed, eyes closed in reverence gotta give it to these people!!!!
    Showing reverence when they pray!

    August 30, 2011 at 9:35 am |
  9. jorge washinsen

    We have to be the dumbest people in the world.What does it take to get our attention?

    August 30, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • Joxer the Mighty

      What are you going on about?

      August 30, 2011 at 9:47 am |
  10. Granger

    Wow...Martin T...just imagine how screwed up and indebt the country would be without the conservative Right? I mean, relating to this article, Muslims have mistrusted and "hated," virtually every other president...then Obama, with a shady, questionable background, related to Islam comes along...and they love him. He's the posterchild for "anti-Americanism," and they love him. Had this country had no conservative Right, we'd be in as bad a predicament as England and Europe; both overrun with Islam and muslims. So, if you're not RIGHT, you're wrong.

    August 30, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • Laughing

      wow.........

      ...........

      You're saying the conservative right has.....helped us?

      What are you, nuts? I mean aside from your obvious misguided notion that Obama somehow has a shady past and is a muslim, you really believe that the conservative right has somehow saved America? Please, I urge you to go outside and speak with real muslim people, I'm sure they're not nearly as scary as they are made out to be in the media, and who knows, you might actually make a friend!

      August 30, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • Martin T

      Careful, YOUR racism is showing..... Could it be that President Obama actually is making an effort and progress in making peace with EVERYONE? No, that would simply be giving the man too much credit, right??

      August 30, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • Martin T

      @Granger, I point you to the previous administration, the Bush Years, and the deficit that group of Conservatives left office with.... oh, and check out the surplus they started with after Clinton left...

      August 30, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • Uneducated Biggot

      Granger, like most biggots, you lead with your unsubstantiated, grandiose conspiracy-theory conclusions and provide no evidence to support your view. Common sense tells us that if President Obama had a shady background, or even one that was vulnerable to misinterpretation, the republican opposition would exploit it. Instead, all they were able to do was make things up about his country of birth. First they attacked him for being a radical christian due to the preacher he was associated with. When that didn't work, they accused him of being a muslim (which, by the way, should not even be an accusation). Go talk to your buddies and get your racist story straight.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:08 am |
  11. DrBakroChod

    Muslims are happy in US. Question. Are Americans are happy with Muslims ? Anlogy. In store Oranges are sweet and juicy but some have poison injected and can kill. will American dare to try ?

    August 30, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • Dale

      Muslims ARE Americans! I guess your "America" contains only white evangelicals?

      August 30, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  12. jorge washinsen

    How ,after 9-11, are we suppose to respond.Rejoice or say woopee.

    August 30, 2011 at 9:33 am |
  13. Tom

    Approximately 2.5 million Muslims in the US. So I should feel good that 1 out of 5 Muslims in America (500,000) do think there's a time when suicide bombing or other violence against civilians is justified? And ONLY 5% (125,000) have favorable or somewhat favorable views of Al-Qaida, an enemy of America?

    August 30, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • claybigsby

      they surveyed 1000 people or .0004% of the muslim population in the US. Hardly a big enough sample to make assumptions like the ones you are making.

      August 30, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  14. Ruth in Ohio

    I still do not get why muslims come to America in the first place ,what is so wrong with your country? You can do whatever you like . And why are you trying to change everything America stands for?

    August 30, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • jorge washinsen

      Money.

      August 30, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • Martin T

      IF that were the case, there wouldn't be anyone in America except the Native Americans. We, at least our ancestors, are ALL the product of someone coming to America for whatever reason. Because we are a nation that accepts EVERYONE'S views, we are the strongest nation in the world. MOST Muslims who come to America do not come simply as Muslims but as humans seeking a better place to work, live, and raise a family.

      August 30, 2011 at 9:36 am |
  15. Robert

    @MartinT – Dear god man! We just proved the impossible! A conservative and an (apparent?) liberal with differning viewpoints and we just had a civil – logical discussion with one another?! unheard of! the stars will fall from the sky and the world will end now 😉

    August 30, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • Martin T

      @ Robert – As an educator and college administrator, I have learned to look at all sides of an argument and even give ground when presented with a sound argument. You are a reasonable man, as I am, and I wish more would do this and move our great country forward. Peace.

      August 30, 2011 at 9:32 am |
  16. Ruth in Ohio

    I could care less what the muslims living in America think about anything in this country!They live by the koran ,my ancestors came to America and became Americans ,learned the law according to America,learned English and ADAPTED to American life,and stood behind the ideals and flew the American flag proudly!!!!. they worshipped in their own churches,but they loved America and everything it stood forThey did not change American laws,muslims do not become American,they are taught to hate us,what part do people not get!!!!

    August 30, 2011 at 9:28 am |
    • False Prophet

      They are extremely dangerous. When their most holy 'prophet' was a pedophile and a warlord what do you expect from his followers.

      August 30, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • Martin T

      Ruth, do you actually have ANY evidence to back up your claim? Any at all??? Has ANY America Muslim attacked Americans? Have you even been paying attention to some of the Rhetoric coming from the FAR RIGHT Christian Groups? By the sounds of it, you may be in that group..

      August 30, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • markjohn

      well there is a difference between muslims and american the culture. why they hate america? ur way of life is far away from them they abstein and forviden all kinds of sins or bad deeds.here on earth we live by bread and work as for our family..enjoy the fruits of your hardship in working dringking eating up to the point whic is the eveil acts of your own self looking for lusfull desires to women and same as them that do it ,they hate this coz the are forbiden to do thatt kinds of acts ,like u must love and not giving back revenge both of you who live in america.
      the world is full of people now and is it a moderm for for all men and woman doing pleasures all over the globe how come tyou doin good and become pastor of god or a fallower of good deeds
      means u enjoy fellowship with they call jesus, if u learn the bible or quoran or other sects surely u will hate the other religion saying ur the one to be save not the unbelievers ,curse to all sinners and die ? its love that the true god sending this messges for you! all your country living now at this time 2011

      August 30, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • SPA Knight

      Martin T,
      I can give you a few examples. The first was Sgt Hasan Akbar who killed fellow soldiers by launching a grenade at them while serving in Kuwait. He's been tried and sentenced to death. More recently was the shootings at Ft. Hood where Nidal Malik Hasan who was an Army Major and Psychiatrist who opened fired on over 30 fellow soldiers killing at least 13. Then there was the guy who's name escapes me that planted a bomb in Times Square but was arrested before the bombing was carried out thanks to our law enforcement. He was from the Bridgport, CT area. I believe all were US itizens. There are probably more but the point is that we can't bury our heads in the sand hoping everything is going to be alright. I care about peace loving Muslims equally to Christians, Jews, Hindus and members of every faith. However, there are extremists in every category that try to use violence as a means to advance their case which is death and destruction to the greatest Nation on the planet. Love this country and it's people or leave.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  17. False Prophet

    muslims are terrorists in disguise

    August 30, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  18. OldGoat

    U.S. Muslims happy with their country...

    Yes, but is the USA happy with their Muslims? They come here and proclaim they are Americans, yet they maintain the customs and culture of the old country, practice religious intolerance and wear the uniform of the Middle East. That doesn't at all sound American to me.

    August 30, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • shmitty

      Im sorry are we talking about Muslims or Hispanics? Im confused 😉

      August 30, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • charms

      well said. All this hypocritical articles

      August 30, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • I know, right!

      History repeating itself again. This is the Irish and Italians coming to OUR country and continuing to be Catholic as over again.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  19. Robert

    @MartinT – I thank your sons for the sacrifices they have made for us, respectfully, my point was not the location where we are typing (Incidentally, Im not in a coffeehouse either), but my point was that your argument was off topic.

    As to Bush's comment, many presidents have made claims that their decisions to go to or remain in a war were backed by God (Roosevelt and eisenhower come to mind). Nonetheless, you forget that presidents don't send our country to war without the backing of Congress (Even Bush) That's why Obama caught flack for the Libya situation – but I digress. The point is, our wars – right or wrong – were not religious persecution. The specific targeting of Christians by Islamic extremists however – is.

    August 30, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • Martin T

      And, I agree with most of what you just said. I do stand by my statement that this will in time go down in history as a Holy War.. whether it is or not, simply because of the way that Bush and others presented themselves at certain times. I do support the troops, just not the wars.

      August 30, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • Martin T

      I also, do not think that the Exteremists are simply targeting Christians, as they blow up more of their own than they do Christians. Also, not everyone who has died at the hands of the extremists were Christians at 911. However, I agree that they attacked America because they perceived us as a Christian Nation, and there are those who do not wish to disagree with that notion.

      August 30, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Martin T.
      Perhaps I'm being semantically nitpicky, but I think history will remember this conflict as a culture war, not a holy one.
      Much of the world perceives American culture as decadent, lazy, overbearing, violent and self-serving.
      If you were a typical citizen of Syria, for example, and you read The Project For A New American Century ten years ago and recognized many of the authors as being those in power, don't you think you'd be just the slightest bit concerned about America's Imperalist intentions?

      People seem to have forgotten about PNAC – but it's goals were largely achieved by the Bush administration.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  20. shmitty

    Does this mean they can show that South Park episode with Mohammad now???? No more censorship hooray!!
    You silly people on your soap boxes. Every liberal thinks of a christian or a republican (its synonimous of course) as an old crotchity 70 year old white man with a bunch of money and grumpy. Mr Burns I guess.

    August 30, 2011 at 9:23 am |
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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.