Poll: Muslim Americans lean to moderate views

August 30, 2011

Almost half the nation's estimated 2.8 million Muslims fault their
leaders for not speaking out against Islamic extremists, but a vast
majority are far more satisfied than Americans overall with the way
things are going in this country, according to a major survey of U.S.
Muslims.

The Pew Research Center report, termed the most
comprehensive survey since 2007 at its release August 30, shows no
evidence of rising support for Islamic extremism among Muslim Americans,
although 52 percent say government antiterrorism policies single out
Muslims for increased surveillance.

Nearly half of U.S. Muslims
say their leaders have not done enough to challenge extremists. "I think
we should all do more," says Hassan Jaber, executive director of
Dearborn, Michigan–based ACCESS, the largest nonprofit Arab-American
human services organization.

The survey shows that American
Muslims have more moderate views than their brethren around the globe,
yet 7 percent say suicide bombings are sometimes justified (unchanged
since 2007) and 21 percent say there is a great deal or fair amount of
support for extremism in their communities.

By contrast, four in
ten Americans believe there is a fair amount of support for extremism
among U.S. Muslims, and nearly one in five (24 percent) think Muslim
support for extremism is increasing.

"They [U.S. Muslims] are
mainstream and moderate in attitude," says Andrew Kohut, president of
the Pew Research Center. "Most Muslims want to adopt American customs,
many of their close friends are not Muslims, and they rate their
economic situation pretty positively. They think like Americans."

Despite
55 percent saying that being a Muslim in the U.S. is more difficult
since 9/11, Muslims are far more positive about the state of the nation
(56 percent) than Americans as a whole (23 percent). Four years ago,
there was more agreement on the state of the U.S.: 38 percent for
Muslims and 32 percent for the general population.

The poll found
that most Muslim Americans still identify with or lean toward the
Democratic Party and overwhelmingly support President Obama.  —USA Today