Facts About Muslim Americans (Americans Need to Know)
August 31, 2011 12 Comments
My very dear friend, Nader Hasan, is saying what Americans say they want to hear: be American and Muslim and proud of both, and no violence in the name of Islam, ever.
Nader’s vehicle is the Nawal Foundation. It stands for Muslim American patriotism, renunciation of any violence in the name of Islam, and dialogue with America to forge common patriotic ground. Please visit the website and the Facebook page. Americans need to support this foundation. It does precisely what a Muslim American organization needs to do.
Nader was interviewed by ABC’s Bob Woodruff last Friday. The interview is scheduled to appear this Sunday on Christiane Amanpour’s show at 10 am Eastern. Check it out.
And now here’s what you thought you knew, but didn’t, about Muslim Americans. It’s from the Gallup organization, perhaps the most sophisticated polling organization in the world. Gallup did extensive polling of American faith groups (Muslim, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, No Religion/Atheist/Agnostic) on a wide range of issues. They published their results in Muslim Americans: Faith, Freedom, and the Future (August 2011). The results are revealing.
- 93% of Muslim Americans says Muslims living in this country are loyal to the United States. Jews say so at 80%, No Religion/Atheist/Agnostic say so at 69%, and the rest in the mid to high 50s. This is remarkable because Muslims are more likely than other groups to be immigrants or first-generation Americans, i.e., without established roots in the country. It’s also remarkable because Jews — the putative antagonists of Muslims in Israel/Palestine — register such strong belief in the patriotism of Muslim Americans.
- Muslim Americans are most likely by far (89%) to say individual attacks on civilians are “never justified” (compared to “sometimes” and “depends”). All other faith groups register in the 71-79% range. The specific phrase “suicide bombing” is not used here — but the results confirm that Muslim-Americans overwhelmingly say, “no way, never.”
- Far more than any other faith group, Muslim Americans (78%) say military targeting and killing of civilians is “never justified.” (compared to “sometimes” and “depends”). All other faith groups register in the 33-56% range.
- 81% of Muslims and 78% of Jews in America support a two-state-solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. (All faith groups register majority support for a two-state solution.)
- Are Muslims more obligated to speak out against terrorism? Muslims are split, half and half. Most other faith groups are also split, except for No Religion/Atheist/Agnostic, which register 69% against more obligation to speak out. But all faith groups (except Muslims) say, by a substantial majority, that Muslims are not speaking out enough against terrorism. In other words, Muslims believe they are speaking out, but they’re not perceived as speaking out.
- “It is possible,” says Gallup, “that Muslim-Americans organizations rely too heavily on websites and email lists to speak out against terrorism. … The websites where condemnations are posted are generally of most interest to U.S. Muslims and may not be seen by a wider audience.” Source: Muslim Americans: Faith, Freedom, and the Future (August 2011), p.37.
- Are Americans prejudiced against Muslims? 60% of American Muslims say yes. Remarkably, 66% of American Jews say yes. Substantially fewer in any other faith group say yes. By far more Muslims (48%) say they have actually experienced racial or religious discrimination in the past year. Distant seconds are Mormons (31%) and No Religion/Atheists/Agnostics (25%).
- All faith groups register majority agreement with the proposition that they are respected when they practice their religion in public — but Muslims (35%) and Jews (24%) are much more likely than the other faith groups to disagree.
- Muslim-Americans are the most respectful of other religions of any faith group.
What is most striking here is the opportunity. Muslim-Americans are in every sense good Americans, as we all best understand that term. But there has been too much silence and too little dialogue, too much hijacking of the narrative by extremists, and too much stereotyping.
When well over half the images of Muslims that Americans see in the media are of jihadist extremists, it’s no wonder many Americans harbor suspicions about Muslim American patriotism. But the jihadist extremists do not represent Islam. In fact, they are supported by a tiny fraction of Muslims worldwide, and an infinitesimal percentage among Muslim Americans. The jihadist extremists are a media phenomenon — nevertheless, to be sure, a dangerous phenomenon, but wildly unpopular among Muslims, and wildly exaggerated in their significance in Muslim communities.
It’s time to join common ground. The very real threat represented by jihadist extremists is best marginalized by Muslims and non-Muslims uniting in vocal opposition to their poison. And that is best accomplished by Muslims and non-Muslims talking to each other with mutual respect. And that is what my friend Nader Hasan’s Nawal Foundation is all about. It’s the driving issue, the supreme opportunity, of the 21st century.