Beliefnet
Washington, Sept. 9--(UPI) A majority of American Muslims say they have experienced bias or discrimination since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks while even a larger number say they knew of a fellow Muslim who experienced discrimination, says a survey report published recently by an American Islamic civil rights and advocacy group.

But that same poll of 945 individuals, conducted by the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, indicates more than 3-in-4 American Muslims--79 percent--also experienced kindness or support from friends or colleagues of other faiths. That kindness often took the form of verbal reassurances, support during the anti-Muslim backlash and even offers to help guard local mosques.

"The results of this survey show that while most Americans have gone through a traumatic year, there is hope for the future if Americans who support and practice tolerance challenge the vocal minority who seek to divide our nation," said the council's Executive Director Nihad Awad.

Less than half of the respondents--48 percent--said their lives changed for the worse in the year following the attacks. About 16 percent respondents said they had to learn more about Islam because of requests from other Americans to explain their faith to them. The most frequent forms of bias experienced by the respondents were verbal abuse, religious or ethnic profiling and workplace discrimination.

About 70 percent of respondents were registered to vote or will register before the next election. When asked to name the political party that best represents the interests of the American Muslim community, more respondents named the Democratic Party--16 percent--and Green Party--5 percent--than the Republican Party, 3 percent.

Yet 36 percent of Muslim respondents said they voted for George W. Bush in the last presidential election. Thirteen percent voted for Ralph Nader and 9 percent voted for Al Gore. That seeming anomaly may be explained by the number of respondents--66 percent--who rated the Bush administration's post-Sept. 9 interaction with the American Muslim community as 3 or lower on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 was poor and 10 was excellent.

Muslims from more than 40 different states--and the District of Columbia--responded to the survey, with the most responses coming from California, Texas, Virginia, New York, Michigan, Maryland, Ohio, Florida, New Jersey, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

There are an estimated 7 million Muslims in America and some 1.2 billion worldwide. Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in America.

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