PEW POLL QUANTIFIES THE RADICAL MINORITY OF U.S. MUSLIMS
By Dr. David J. Rusin
Radical Muslims remain uncommon in the U.S.A. — but not uncommon enough. Muslims' opinions of al-Qa'ida are 5% favorable (2% very, 3% somewhat) and 81% unfavorable (70% very, 11% somewhat); 14% did not answer. This is a step forward, as only 68% recorded disapproval in 2007. Furthermore, 8% of U.S. Muslims — a larger percentage than in Pakistan — say that suicide bombing or other violence against civilians is, at least sometimes, justified to defend Islam. Perhaps most troubling, 21% of U.S. Muslims see a great deal or fair amount of support for extremism among their own.
Underlining the significance of homegrown Islamism, more U.S.-born Muslims than immigrants hold radical views. Native-born African-American Muslims lead the way: 11% have a favorable opinion of al-Qa'ida, 16% say that attacking civilians can be religiously justified, at least sometimes, and 40% see support for extremism among U.S. Muslims; each value is double the one characterizing Muslim Americans as a whole.
Despite pseudo-academic studies smearing those who sound the alarm about radical Islam as "Islamophobes," Pew finds that 60% of Muslims are very or somewhat concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism in the U.S.A. — almost as high as the figure for the general public (67%). Are many Muslim Americans "Islamophobes" as well?
The Pew poll, like Gallup's, erodes the Islamist meme that life in America is miserable for Muslims. Pew finds that 56% of Muslims are satisfied with the country's direction, compared to 23% of the general public. Muslims also are happier with their lives, have a more positive financial outlook, and feel more confident that hard work leads to success.
Pew combines the percentage of Muslim respondents (about 0.5%, roughly the same as Gallup) with census data to estimate a population of 1.8 million Muslim adults and 2.75 million total Muslims in the U.S.A. — barely a third of the number often claimed.
It is reassuring that most U.S. Muslims hold mainstream views, but history shows that Islamists need not be a majority to be dangerous. The moderate and largely silent masses do not offset a hundred thousand radicals, if not more, who approve of al-Qa'ida and serve as potential recruits.
Congressman Peter King, who called Pew's results "disappointing" and reiterated the need for hearings, has the right perspective: "Seventy percent of American Muslims are opposed to al-Qa'ida. We are at war with al-Qa'ida. One hundred percent should be opposed to al-Qa'ida."
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Dr. David J. Rusin is the Director of Islamist Watch, the Middle East Forum's project to expose and combat stealth jihad, that is, the lawful, but still subversive, political activities of Islamists operating in the U.S.A. and other Western states. Previously, Dr. Rusin served as a research associate at Islamist Watch and as an editor for Pajamas Media. After Al-Qa'ida's terror attack on the U.S.A. on September 11, 2001, Dr. Rusin's primary interest turned from Astrophysics to Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Islam, and the Islamist threat to Western Civilization. Rusin holds a Ph.D. in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The foregoing article by Dr. Rusin was originally published in Islamist Watch, September 6, 2011, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a foreign policy think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (URL: http://www.islamist-watch.org/blog/2011/09/pew-poll-quantifies-the- radical-minority-of-us)
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