September 1, 2011

Muslim Americans: No Signs of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism

55%

A majority of Muslim Americans say that life in the United States has become more difficult for them since 9/11, but a comprehensive survey of this population found no indication of increased alienation or anger.

For Muslims in the United States, concerns about Islamic extremism coexist with the view that life for Muslim Americans in post-9/11 America is difficult in a number of ways. A comprehensive survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that 55% of Muslim Americans say that life for them has become more difficult since 9/11, a slightly higher percentage than said so in a previous study. In 2007, a Pew Research Center survey found 53% holding this view. Significant numbers report being looked at with suspicion (28%) and being called offensive names (22%). And while 21% report being singled out by airport security, 13% say they have been singled out by other law enforcement. Overall, a 52% majority says that government anti-terrorism policies single out Muslims in the U.S. for increased surveillance and monitoring.

However, Muslim Americans have not become disillusioned with the country. They are overwhelmingly satisfied with the way things are going in their lives (82%) and continue to rate their communities very positively as places to live (79% excellent or good). At a personal level, most think that ordinary Americans are friendly (48%) or neutral (32%) toward Muslim Americans; relatively few (16%) believe the general public is unfriendly toward Muslim Americans. About two-thirds (66%) say that the quality of life for Muslims in the U.S. is better than in most Muslim countries. Overall, the survey found no indication of increased alienation or anger among Muslim Americans in response to concerns about home-grown Islamic terrorists, controversies about the building of mosques and other pressures that have been brought to bear on this high-profile minority group in recent years. There also was no evidence of rising support for Islamic extremism among Muslim Americans. Read More