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Beliefnet News

Most Americans Support Congressional Probe on Muslims

c. 2011 Religion News Service
(RNS) Americans haven’t heard much about upcoming congressional hearings on the radicalization of U.S. Muslims, yet more than half think it’s a good idea, and nearly as many believe Muslims here haven’t done enough to fight extremists in their midst, according to a new poll.
At the same time, 62 percent say American Muslims are an important part of the religious community, and a clear majority — 72 percent — say Congress should investigate religious extremism anywhere it exists, not just among Muslims, according to a PRRI/RNS Religion News Poll released Wednesday (Feb. 16).
Peter Gottschalk, co-author of Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy, said the findings reflect the impact of recent waves of anti-Muslim rhetoric surrounding burning the Quran and opposing the construction of mosques.
“The Muslim community has been fairly successful at demonstrating themselves as neighbors, but the question becomes are they good neighbors?” said Gottschalk, chairman of the religion department at Wesleyan University.
“There’s a double standard that Muslims are responsible for extremism by people who happen to be Muslim, but all Christians aren’t responsible for abortion clinic bombers or the KKK.”
The poll, conducted by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service, was released as House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., prepares to hold hearings on the threat of homegrown Islamic extremism during the week of March 7.
The poll examined attitudes toward both the hearings and American Muslims, analyzing the responses by gender, age, most trusted news source, and religious and political affiliation.
Overall, men, viewers who trust Fox News, white evangelicals and Republicans are more likely to think the hearings are a good idea and to believe Muslims want to establish Shariah law in the United States.
Those groups are also among the most likely to say they feel “well informed” about Islam and the “religious beliefs and practices of Muslims.”
These groups aren’t necessarily more knowledgeable, however — just more confident in their beliefs, researchers explained. Researchers said a person’s preferred news source is significantly correlated to how much they worry about American Muslim extremism.
“What we’re seeing here is a significant Fox News effect,” explained Daniel Cox, PRRI research director. “We even see differences among Republicans who trust Fox News most and those who trust other media.”
Other findings include:


  • Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of Americans haven’t heard anything about the upcoming hearings to investigate U.S. Muslim extremism.
  • A majority (56 percent) believes that a hearing on American Muslim extremism is a good idea, including most Republicans (71 percent), people who trust Fox News (76 percent), and white evangelicals (70 percent). The hearings find less support among Democrats (45 percent), people who trust CNN (45 percent) or public television (28 percent), and white mainline Protestants (50 percent).
  • Nearly half (49 percent) of Americans do not believe Muslims in the U.S. have been unfairly targeted by law enforcement; more than one-third (36 percent) believe Muslims have been targeted unfairly.
  • One in five (22 percent) Americans believes U.S. Muslims want to establish Shariah law here. This view is far more common among Republicans (31 percent) than Democrats (15 percent), people who trust Fox News (35 percent) than those who trust public television (9 percent), and white evangelicals (34 percent) than white mainline Protestants (20 percent) or white Catholics (22 percent).
  • A plurality (46 percent) believes American Muslims have not done enough to oppose Muslim extremism, including healthy majorities of men, white evangelicals, Republicans and Fox News viewers.
  • In contrast, only 42 percent of Democrats, 43 percent of people who trust CNN or network news (42 percent) or public television (30 percent) say American Muslims haven’t done enough.
  • Americans are split over whether they feel well informed about Muslims and Islam, but men (56 percent) and viewers who trust Fox News (52 percent) are more likely to report feeling well-informed than women (36 percent), and viewers who trust CNN (41 percent) and network news (31 percent).
  • Richard

    It amazes me how many people in this country feel it is ok to target minority groups based on their own prejudices. They act like ALL Muslims are terrorists so it is Ok to hold hearings on them and to spy on them in their mosques.
    I wonder how they would feel in there were hearings on, say, the dangers the Catholic church poses to young boys. (You know, the whole pedophile priest scandals.) Congress could have a whole slew of Catholic bashers testify as “expert witnesses.” But I am sure the outcome would be “fair” right? And would they be ok with government spies in Catholic churchs—just to check to make sure everything is on the up and up in those houses of worship.
    I’m just saying what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. How would you like to be in their shoes?

  • nnmns

    Good points Richard.
    And I’m embarrassed how often “men” shows up with “people who trust Fox News”. I don’t think we’re basically intellectually challenged but if you keep showing up in the “= Stupid” categories, sooner or later the “If it walks like a duck …” saying must apply to you.
    Hopefully H4C will come along and point out that all we guys aren’t like that.
    Maybe it’s a genetic thing having to do with protecting the tribe and not trusting “others”.

  • Heretic_for_Christ

    Well, nnmns, along I came… and no, not all men are morons. But like I tell my wife, “Hey, cut me a little slack. I have a genetic disorder.” “Yeah, what’s that?” she says. “I have only one X chromosome…”
    The story itself here is sad and scary. But even scarier to me is the extent to which Americans rely on Fox News and the screeching jingo-clones that pollute the airways with their toxic droppings.

  • nnmns

    There is some good news there:
    “At the same time, 62 percent say American Muslims are an important part of the religious community, and a clear majority — 72 percent — say Congress should investigate religious extremism anywhere it exists, not just among Muslims”

  • cknuck

    As awful as the KKK are they are not presently a threat of any significance, I haven’t heard of any abortion clinics being bombed lately, if there were I am sure investigations would move in whatever area it needs.

  • SamB

    I’m tired of being told that Islam is a “Religion of Peace,” when every day I can read dozens of stories of Muslim men killing their sisters, wives and daughters for their family “honour”; of Muslims rioting over some slight offense; of Muslims murdering Christian and Jews because they aren’t “believers”; of Muslims burning schools for girls; of Muslims stoning teenage rape victims to death for “adultery”; of Muslims mutilating the genitals of little girls; all in the name of Allah, because the Qur’an and Shari’a law tells them to.
    I’m tired of being told that out of “tolerance for other cultures” we must let Saudi Arabia use our oil money to fund mosques and mandrassa Islamic schools to preach hate in America and Canada , while no American nor Canadian group nor Australia is allowed to fund a church, synagogue or religious school in any Muslim land to teach love and tolerance. Probe them and ask why they do not demonstrate publicly against terrorism and radical Muslims.

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