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Gallup Poll Finds Muslim Americans Hopeful, Trusting

By Merle David Kellerhals Jr. | Staff Writer | 10 August 2011
Andre Carson with microphone (AP Images)

Congressman Andre Carson is one of two Muslim Americans serving in the U.S. Congress.

Washington — A new Gallup Poll shows that Muslim Americans living in the United States feel more hopeful and consider themselves better off than they did three years ago.

“They see themselves as loyal to the U.S. and express trust in its democratic institutions,” the public opinion polling company said in a statement. But the opinion survey also shows that at least half of those polled said they have experienced some degree of prejudice.

The opinion survey, “Muslim Americans: Faith, Freedom, and the Future,” is based on interviews conducted by telephone from February 10 to March 11, 2010, and October 1 to October 21, 2010, as part of Gallup’s daily tracking survey. Gallup officials said the large samples from this poll provide an often “rare, in-depth look at how Muslim Americans compare with other major faith groups” in the United States.

The Gallup report was released in Washington on August 2 and is based on findings from the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center, which is a Gallup-affiliated research group based in the United Arab Emirates. The poll involved interviews with 2,482 adults, of whom 475 said they were Muslim, and the poll has an error margin of plus or minus 7 percentage points for the Muslim respondents, Gallup said. The poll also reflects nearly three years of research into Muslim American attitudes.

The survey, which comes nearly 10 years after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, covered four major areas: law enforcement and terrorism, American democratic institutions, profiling and discrimination, and religion and tolerance.

Senior analyst Mohamed Younis of the Abu Dhabi Center cited a few of the study’s findings:

• Muslim Americans are the most likely of the major faith groups in the United States to reject violent attacks against civilians.

• Muslim Americans are the most critical in their opinions of the institutions and interventions associated with counterterrorism.

• Muslim Americans identify equally with the United States and their religious affiliation.

• Muslim Americans who attend religious services at least once a week have higher levels of civic engagement and report less stress and anger than do other U.S. Muslims who attend religious services less frequently.

• Muslim Americans are often similar to Jewish Americans in their views and perceptions of major issues.

Jocelyne Cesari of Harvard University said at the presentation in Washington that the Gallup study confirms several trends researchers have been studying in recent years. She said the study, for example, confirms that “the more Muslim you are, the more civic you are,” and that “Muslims tend to trust major institutions in the country in which they live.”

The Gallup study also found that 90 percent or more of Muslim Americans were not sympathetic to the transnational terrorist group al-Qaida or its actions.

The size of the Muslim-American population has proved difficult to measure because the U.S. census does not track religious affiliation. Estimates vary widely from 2 million to 7 million. What is clear, however, is that the Muslim-American population has been growing rapidly as a result of immigration, a high birth rate and conversions.

Muslim Americans: Faith, Freedom, and the Future” is available on the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center website.

(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/iipdigital-en/index.html)