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. volksmaniac

    Simply not supporting muslim acts of terror is not enough . The sooner the american muslims openly condemn those acts , the sooner they will gain other americans trust . They should be shouting against it from every corner of their community . White americans openly condemn the klan , black americans openly condemn the panthers , muslims need to follow those examples .

    August 30, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • John S

      And they do, Volksmaniac –
      but you wouldn't know that unless you spent some energy VERIFYING your beliefs. How hard is it to just type "Muslims condemn terrorist" into Google and read something?

      I guess justifying lazy, comfortable, self-righteous prejudice is so much easier and more enjoyable than using that brain we are all given.

      August 30, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Paulwisc

      Really? When did you last shout "I hate the Klan!" in public?

      Sorry, but it's illogical to claim that they must publicly condemn any group or individual just because they belong to the same broad religious category. They are responsible only for their own actions, just as you are. One could spend weeks publicly condemning all the nutcake Christian groups.

      August 30, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  2. Sathyavrath

    One must be careful greeting Muslim on their festival of Eid. If you say "EidMubarak" some of them may hear that as "Eatmybollocks". And that "small" portion of so called radicals might actually do...good luck.....: -)P

    August 30, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Nade23

      The stupidest thing I heard in years. Go back to your trailer. A white trash trying to be funny.

      August 30, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  3. sense4sure

    all these post are not fair the muslims are constantly attacted on CNN, oh wait it the Christians that are constantly attacted on CNN, Never mind...

    August 30, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Sathyavrath

      Christian are constantly attacked on CNN. They are called the Tea Party and Republicans.

      August 30, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • The Lambly Winged Lion of The Gods Does Roar

      The prevailing in idiotic mainstreaming of amassed generalisms are allotted to be but a subdiffusioning artculation for the release of the masses' plagerisms.

      August 30, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  4. No fool

    I could not agree more with Chod. Remember the "Good Nazis;." how valiantly and effectively they fought – and prevailed! – against the concentration camps, gas chambers and crematoria! That's the kind of education the US needs to get and never forget. All tyrannies are the same regardless of names they choose to wear. All have fifth columns in nations they plan to conquer with the help of rodent-like birthrates.

    August 30, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • wayne

      The muslims claim there was no holocaust.

      August 30, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Stud99

      holocaust my @ss ,, wake up idiot ,, you still believe in that bs. People like you are the one behind the mess in our country.

      August 30, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  5. wilbur

    Whatever you perceive the OPPOSITE is usually true. Iran...look....the United States and Iran have a special relationship. Here is the deal...be happy, nothing you can do about it. The US controls in the most utter sense. Be proud and just let the show go on. Be happy and healthy...stop eating, turn off facebook and Nancy Grace.

    August 30, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  6. RStev

    Does the author look at his own stats? "4 out of 5 say a suicide bombing is never justified"!!! I believe he just said that 20% of Muslims in this country think that terrorist attacks are sometimes justified. That's a lot of people. Just saying.

    August 30, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • wilbur

      If it is Christian USA doing it...foreign policy. If it is an outraged human (here or abroad) it is terrorism.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • John S

      I think you should consider if YOU believe suicide bombing is every justified? In America, giving your life on a battlefield is rewarded with posthumous medals.

      Killing civilians during wartime? First, 30% of Americans agree that civilians casualties are acceptable during warfare (recent poll). And we deliberately firebombed (and nuclear bombed) millions of civilians in WW2, didn't we? Did 4/5 Americans disagree with that policy? More like 4/5 AGREED with bombing civilians.

      In order to judge someone who is in a different situation that you are .. you have to try to think harder, and try to be fair-minded.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Jason

      Suicide bombings can never be justidied in any religion because all three major religions say that suicide is a stright shot to hell. I would say that if they wanted to avenge their dead to stop killing themself and Kill the people responsible for Murdering and Terrorizing their families just as anyone in this room would do

      August 30, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • The Lambly Winged Lion of The Gods Does Roar

      Prioritizing the "masses" pertualizing demeanors is an old Roman-like fulcrum. Either one releases the barbarist or one sets adjudication of overtness underpinning the very natures of unwanted religions.

      August 30, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  7. Jonathan

    Of course they are happy, our economy is in the tubes. We are being punished by Allah. Why would they want any different?

    August 30, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Jamil

      I'd Like to wish all my Muslim and Non Muslim brothers a Happy Eid!!!

      August 30, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • wilbur

      The economy has collapsed. We don't know it yet. Please google what all major corporations (financial mostly) do in BANGALORE and HYDERABAD. Money is digitized now and....it is entirely completely washed in Hyderabad. We are not talking about call centers. We are talking global operations centers such as ....Well-s Farg-o Private Solutions India

      August 30, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  8. GSA

    Another 200 negative comments, this time only 198 are from Christians. Slowly you guys are getting better, I guess reading the Bible was step one, step two, actually practicing what you preach, that seems to be the hard part for most Christians.

    August 30, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • KosherCow

      They preach hate, so they're going to practice it... exactly what you asked for

      August 30, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • The Lambly Winged Lion of The Gods Does Roar

      GSA,,,,,, The ACTS of religiously divided humanities are due the timelines of promulgative wants and diswants in their trees of civility orientated estuaries. My being a firmed believer of the pyramid-like understandings of GOD made by the Gods created by envisioning godly men is but a moralistic relavency mooted by you who are dumbfounded and cannot truly fathom my Word. 🙁

      August 30, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  9. joe d

    i would trust a muslim over a jew any day.....

    August 30, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Laughing

      Solid opinion, unfortunately for you the jews have already stolen your money, house, wife and used their shadow government to send a SWAT team to pick you up for "re-education". Don't worry, I hear being "re-educated" in the desert is a really fun experience! Tell me how it goes!

      August 30, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Nade23

      Jews rules

      August 30, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • wayne

      Jews are the best business people the best bankers the most prolific in the arts. If I were a muslim I would discard islam and become a jew.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • wayne

      Muslims want to kill me and jews want my business. I'll do the business thing.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • wilbur

      What is a Jew? Muslims ARE Jews. Of course...so are Christians and Catholics. They just made up Jesus and Santa Claus to take our mind of the fact. Why don't you realize that all religion is basically the same thing separated by culture and time.

      August 30, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • joe d

      most finacial terrorists are jews and have done more damage to the U.S. and it's reputaion then all muslims combined and it's so sad that they care more for Israel then the country(s) they live in..like kissinger said "3000 years of persecution, they must be doing somthing wrong"..PS get AIPAC out of our politics/government..no israel, no 9/11, no terror

      August 30, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • joe d

      madoff liked that business thing to...

      August 30, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • joe d

      laughing writes "Solid opinion, unfortunately for you the jews have already stolen your money, house, wife and used their shadow government to send a SWAT team to pick you up for "re-education"
      hasen't happened yet. but i am glad you agree with me..

      August 30, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  10. Bill

    Having grown up as a 3rd generation Irish American has given me insight as to how the people of my country appears to want to destory itself by past generations of ethnic and religious predjudice. The very instigators don't think back to when their forefathers and mothers were immigrants in this country.

    My mother's mother's family were all Irish Catholic from Donegal and Kilkenny Ireland. Her father's father was Catholic and from Bavaria Germany, while his mother was Irish Catholic from Nothern Ireland.

    My Father's paternal ancesters were from Moneydig Ireland and various other surrounding townlands. They were known as Scots Irish or ulsterman and Presbyterian by faith. My Great Grandfather on my Dad's side married an Irish Catholic and was an outcast by both families for that so called sin in the 1880s and even a century later. My dad's mother's ancestors were all Irish Catholic. Neither of my parents knew of my Dad's paternal ancestors being from Nothern Ireland and being protestant Irish. My Mom's mom would jump out of her grave if she knew this secret discovered by me who has been working on my family Genealogy for several decades. Growing up in the City that was laid out by neighborhood boundaries of Irish Catholic, and Protestants, Itallian, German, Polish, Latin American, African Americans, and Asians was trying times up till the 1980s. During WW1 and WW2, German Americans were spit upon and mistreated in American Cities. So were the Itallians during WWII, and the Asians during WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam Wars. Now since 1990, the muslims and Islamists are mistreated also with the Iraq and Afganistan wars that resulted from terrorists attacks my people of same religions but not necessarily the same beliefs. Take the IRA for instance they were funded by Irish American Catholics in the Norteast of America, but they killed Catholics and Protestants. We all need to understand that we are all Americans first now and give up the ethnic and religious hate that is insighted by the media religious fanatics who have their own agenda.

    August 30, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • The Lambly Winged Lion of The Gods Does Roar

      BILL,,,,,,,,,,,, I can see your points that history has led unto your mindive means. The histories of the American masses are subjugatively routed in acts of the bigotrous natures and as time progesses, the permeations of lividness will subside. This too regarding American Muslims will also subside and pass into the history trees.

      August 30, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  11. Lilly

    I look forward to the day when people will say that their loyalties are to 'Humanity' first and then whatever they want after that. To me gods are all about themselves, not humanity. You must 'worship' gods or face a punishment – so basically gods are attention-seeking divas and anything regarding humanity is secondary to that.

    August 30, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • The Lambly Winged Lion of The Gods Does Roar

      Of GOD made by the Gods and Godessess created and established by godly humanities is as a formula of base-rooted subdivisions regulationg the commodities of mass exodus within eurogenics' complacencies. Either one is for pyamidical retrospecrives resonating around the God-heads of civilities or one is but a defiantly disambiguent non-conformist. 🙂

      August 30, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  12. EnergyBeing3

    Is this article a joke? How can anyone contest their unhappiness with a religion that is so brutal and strict? People are BRAINWASHED

    August 30, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • joel

      this article is not a joke, but people like you without education or knowledge that are constantly talking about things they don't understand are a joke, a real bad one.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  13. TX Candy

    For all of you Muslims haters in here. At least in Islam, our children don't get molested by the priests when they go to worship GOD. So I don't blame most of you here for the hate comments, you suffered enough as a child.

    August 30, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Colin

      But waht about the 9 year old your pedophile prophet married?

      August 30, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • Nice Try

      I suppose you would rather we teach them to hate, make a bomb, strap it on them, then send them to commit murder/suicide.

      Two can play that game. They're both isolated incidents on a similar scale.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Politeness

      Nope, they just get sent to the local store with a bomb strpped to their chest ?

      Just like all priests are not the ideal, all mullahs are not either.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  14. Ganymede

    Don't get to comfortable, Muslims. Your time is coming soon.

    August 30, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Moon

      Yes Coming soon, right after yours.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  15. Colin

    Which of the following people married a little girl, thereby demonstrating he is a pedophile:

    (i) Warren Jeffs, the delusional leader of the Yearning for Zion cult, who is in prison in Texas
    (ii) Brian David Mitchell, the homeless nut case who kidnapped 14 year old Elizabth Smart in Utah
    (iii) the prophet Mohammed, who the Qurán says married a 9 year old; or
    (iv) all of the above?

    August 30, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Ahhhhhh

      But which one's of the above are real people?

      August 30, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  16. jon

    I wonder what the polls would say if they asked american muslims how they felt about israel's existance as a jewish state inside the so called green line.

    August 30, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  17. Brian

    Nice little cheap shot @ the Tea Party you stuck in there. How would the perception that Obama is Muslim or the Tea Party have any effect on how people look at her headscarf?

    If you think OUR media paints Muslims in a bad light, you should check out their media network. Do you think she'd have an easier time if american watched Al Jazeera more often? I don't think so. The "bad" muslims are out there making a bad name for ALL muslims and you can't blame it on the media and you CERTAINLY can't blame it on the Tea Party.

    Get serious.

    August 30, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • Politeness

      She is not a Muslim, she is just another socialist or communist activists thinking she is doing her cause good by lying.
      The Tea Party is not the clan, it is not religious, it is not racist, it is not bigoted. The Tea Party is simply put a common force of concerned citizens that are tired of seeing money wasted and our country down in debt. Ideally, our government should not be allowed to spend more than it takes in except in terms of infrastructure development and extreme emergencies..

      August 30, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • John S

      Politeness – oh no, there is much more to the tea party than just wanting to clear up the debt issue. They ALSO don't want the wealthy to pay higher taxes, they are anti-union/anti-workers' rights, and anti-immigration. That is radical conservatism, and the 80% of America who DON"T listen to Rush, Beck, and crew see right through them.

      They are the extremist political arm of the wealthy. They will ruin America.

      BUT, this board is about the Muslim article above .. and I'm glad that Muslims here are at least reasonable enough to see past THEIR fears of continuing to be harrassed and persecuted by the conservative hillbillies that listen to the Rush/Beck/etc group.

      It seems like American Muslims understand/appreciate American values more than the so-called conservatives do!

      August 30, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  18. PlasticSam

    1033 muslims is a pretty freekin' small poll. There's more than that in my neighborhood alone. You could hand pick your answers in a group that size. Ergo, beware of stories containing statistical comments.

    August 30, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Ahhhhhh

      Uhm, that's about the size of most polls. You've never taken a statistics class, so maybe you should be quiet.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • PlasticSam

      Regardless of what's typical the point still stands: That's TOO SMALL of a poll to be significant. Don't be stupid.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • CW

      PlasticSam, statistically speaking it is not too small a number. Get educated. Please!

      August 30, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  19. The Lambly Winged Lion of The Gods Does Roar

    How long did it take for American Christendom's masses to somewhat understand Libertarian ideals and base root fundamentalisms to curtail the upcoming adolescences' enthronements of secular natruralisms to beguile and accentuate their amassing followers? Cannot the same quetsion can be said with the Muslims in the United States of the Americas? Time is either the great equalizer or the most overlooked commodity to aversion's mechanistic & colloquial mainstreaming agendaships.

    August 30, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Ahhhhhh

      That's the dumbest thing I've heard in a while.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • The Lambly Winged Lion of The Gods Does Roar

      Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, It doeth takes a dummy to foreshadow the dumbness within the Precociousness of the Word! 🙂

      August 30, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  20. Scott S

    Just a note from a tea party member, we don't care what race, religion or political party you belong to. If you are against high taxes, government control of your life and Obama care you fit what a tea party member is 99% about. Illegals is that other 1% those here with out the proper papers. So if you are even close to believing this you to could be a tea party member.

    August 30, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • terry adeline

      so where is your legal papers for living in the US. i guess the indians should deport you too. oh i forgot, you killed them all

      August 30, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Bethany

      Maybe in your neck of the woods. But it isn't the same everywhere. And there are plenty of tea-partiers and those who are rightly or wrongly associated with the tea party that use "Muslim" as an epithet.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Politeness

      Bethany, Open your eyes girl. There are white Democrats, loyal Union members, that voted for Obama that always refer to black people using the 'N' word. Those same idealists refer to muslims in tha same fashion. So does that make the Democaratic party or their Union racist ?

      August 30, 2011 at 10:56 am |
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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.