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  • Article: Muslim Americans Are More Likely to Reject Violence than Many Groups. By David Bier and Matthew La Corte

    Muslim Americans Are More Likely to Reject Violence than Many Groups


    Donald Trump has proposed profiling Muslim Americans and shutting down mosques. He claims that Muslim “hatred is beyond comprehension.” But the truth is that Muslim Americans are not only integrating into U.S. society, but are actually more opposed to violence and more tolerant than many other Americans.

    Muslim Americans Hold Mainstream Religious and Political Views

    US Muslims score higher than most on Gallup’s religious tolerance index.

    Muslims are similar to other religious Americans. Pew’s major survey of Muslims in 2011 found that religion was equally important to Christian and Muslim Americans. Christians and Muslims also attend religious services with about the same frequency. Only 35 percent of Muslims saw their religion as the only true faith, compared to 30 percent of Christians. Like 64 percent of U.S. Christians, a majority of Muslim Americans think different religions can lead to eternal life. Pew even found that Muslims are much less prone to scriptural literalism than Evangelicals.

    Most American Muslims arrived in the United States after 1990, yet they are almost as likely as Christians to prioritize their American identity over their religious identity. As matter of fact, Muslims are much more likely than Evangelical Christians to see themselves as Americans first. More than two-thirds of Evangelicals identify as Christians first and Americans second.

    The fear that Muslim Americans might be more loyal to other Muslims around the world than they are to their own country is unfounded. Gallup’s major survey of American Muslims in 2010 found that Muslim Americans were the least likely of any American religious group to strongly identify with their coreligionists abroad.

    Far from being clannish, Pew found that 93 percent of Muslim Americans had close non-Muslim friends. A majority reported that most of their friends were non-Muslim. At the same time, 92 percent of U.S. Muslims don’t oppose women working outside the home (98 percent of Americans agree).

    Pew also found that 62 percent of Muslims said they were “OK” with Muslims marrying non-Muslims, and another 11 percent said it depends. American Christians were not asked this exact question, but in 2014, Pew found that 77 percent of white Evangelicals would be unhappy if an immediate family member married an atheist.

    Pew finds that U.S. Muslims are politically moderate (38% moderate; 27% liberal; 25% conservative). They were also swing voters in the 2000s, first going strongly for George W. Bush in 2000 before flipping to John Kerry and Democrats since 2004.

    Muslim Americans Are Less Likely to Support Intolerance, Violence

    US Muslims were the only religious group that opposed the targeting of civilians.

    While there are no good polls on the attitude of American Muslims toward Sharia religious law,* U.S. Muslims score higher than most other believers on Gallup’s “religious tolerance” index. The index categorizes individuals as either “isolated,” “tolerant,” or “integrated,” based on their level of agreement with five statements about other faiths. Not all Americans share Muslim Americans’ openness to other faiths. In fact, recent Public Policy Polling (PPP) polls found many Republicans in Iowa, North Carolina, and New Hampshire believe Islam should be banned.

    In 2010, Gallup also asked whether “targeting and killing civilians by the military” can be justified. U.S. Muslims were the only religious group that opposed such targeting. Protestants, Jews, and Catholics believed it could be justified. Muslim Americans were also the most strongly opposed of any religious group to “targeting and killing by individuals or small groups.” Catholics, Protestants, and Jews were all more than twice as likely to support civilian strikes.


    Muslims moving to the US are more moderate and assimilate quickly.Internationally, Muslim views are more varied. Gallup found strong support for Sharia law in several countries, and Pew found support for violence against civilians “in defense of Islam” at high levels in several Middle Eastern countries.

    This suggests that either the Muslims moving to the U.S. are from the more moderate Muslim communities abroad or that they assimilate quickly. A combination of both is likely. Islamic totalitarians, such as ISIS, consider it a form of apostasy to emigrate from a Muslim society to a secular one. Meanwhile, in America, young Muslims are pioneering more liberal forms of Islam — or abandoning the faith.

    Religious Extremism Is Not a Significant Threat

    Even if 5 percent of U.S. Muslims view al-Qaeda favorably, does that mean we will face a constant barrage of attacks? Actually, no. It’s possible for large numbers of people to hold dangerous views on violence without acting on them, as evidenced above.

    We should not let our lives be dictated by fear of terrorism – of any kind.

    But here’s more evidence: according to a YouGov poll, some 4 percent of Americans (nearly 10 million adult Americans) support attacks on abortion providers. Another 7 percent are unsure if those attacks are immoral. There have been two dozen murders or attempted murders, as well as many other attacks by anti-abortion extremists since 1993, but we understand that nearly all pro-life proponents oppose this kind of violence and those that don’t would never act on their views.

    Why don’t some people understand that the same is true for Muslims? The problem is that 83 percent of Americans dismiss violence by Christians as not being committed by “real” Christians, while only 48 percent do the same for Muslims. But the unpleasant reality is that other ideologies are also subject to distortion by violent extremists. The New America Foundation, for instance, finds that various ideologies that it identifies as “right-wing” have been responsible for 18 instances of deadly attacks and 48 deaths since 9/11, compared to 9 attacks and 45 deaths caused by jihadists.

    Americans simply should not let their lives be dictated by a fear of terrorism of any kind. As security expert John Mueller has documented, Americans are more likely to be killed by almost anything else over the last fifty years. Americans murdered more people on any two days last year than were killed by terrorists in the last 10 years. Shutting down mosques and banning Muslims will not make America any safer. Rather than treating them as enemies, America should see Muslim Americans as allies in our fight for freedom and peace.

    Frank Gaffney, the conspiracy theorist founder of the Center for Security Policy, has online “polls” from “Muslims” that are certifiably bogus, as has been explained by others.

    This post was first published at the Niskanen Center in December 2015.

    This post appeared on The Foundation for Economic Education. Reprinted with permission.

    About The Author

    David Bier David Bier is an immigration policy analyst at the Niskanen Center. He is an expert on visa reform, border security, and interior enforcement. From 2013 to 2015, he drafted immigration legislation as senior policy advisor for Congressman Raúl Labrador, a member of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security. Previously, Mr. Bier was an immigration policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

    Matthew La Corte Matthew La Corte, is an immigration research policy analyst for the Niskanen Center, a free market think tank committed to bipartisan policy solutions in Washington, D.C.

    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Nolan Rappaport's Avatar
      Nolan Rappaport -
      I agree that very few Muslims are terrorists. The percentage almost certainly is extremely small. But does that mean that we should disregard the fact that many of the terrorist groups that want to conduct attacks in the United States are Muslims? ISIS is one example. According to Central Intelligence Agency Director John O. Brennan, the threat of an ISIS attack is very real and ISIS probably will explore "a variety of means for infiltrating operatives into the West, including refugee flows, smuggling routes, and legitimate methods of travel." https://www.cia.gov/news-information...fore-ssci.html
    1. Nolan Rappaport's Avatar
      Nolan Rappaport -
      I thought of a better way to make my point. If you go to a doctor to find out if one of the many moles on your body is malignant, you arent going to want to hear wonderful things about moles or about how rately one is malignant. You want to know if you have csncer. If you are concerned about terrorists coming in with mudlims who are not terrorists, it doesnt ease your concern to hear that mudlims are grest people and muslim terrorists are rare. You want the mudlims coming here to be checked to see if any of thrm are terrorists.
    1. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
      ImmigrationLawBlogs -
      "Isis also threatens peaceful Muslims across the Middle East, and peaceful Muslims around the world, who have been terribly victimized by horrible brutality - and who only want to raise their kids in peace and safety."

      (Donald J. Trump, in his June 22 New York speech, quoted in POLITICO) See:


      What would make America safer? Zooming in on ISIS and other terrorist groups with the best intelligence, and if necessary, military, capabilities we have as a nation; or closing our borders to the peaceful, non-terrorist Muslims around the world whom even Donald Trump now acknowledges are innocent victims of ISIS, while hounding and persecuting three million loyal, patriotic, peace-loving Muslim US citizens here at home by threatening to conduct surveillance of their places of worship and inciting the public to commit more hate crimes against them?

      Which would be more in keeping with our laws and values as a nation that respects freedom of religion and the equality of all people? Dividing Americans and pitting us against each other on the basis of race or religion, or uniting America to oppose hatred and bigotry in all its forms? Should fears of terrorist attacks lead us to give up our democracy and usher in an even worse reign of terror under a one man dictatorship by someone who promises to make us "safer"?

      Instead of shooting or cutting off the head of our democracy and drowning our freedoms, wouldn't we be safer by enacting sensible gun control laws to keep these deadly weapons out of the hands of killers such as the evidently mentally disturbed, lone wolf nut who carried out the Orlando killings and happened to be a Muslim and claimed to be an ISIS supporter on the last day of his life, but had no actual terrorist connections of affiliations that any investigation has yet been able to find?

      Isn't it also time to revisit and overturn the awful Supreme Court Heller decision in which the Court majority,, in effect, held that the "militia" clause of the Second Amendment had no more effect than it would have had if it had never been written; and disregarded 2,000 years of history of the meaning of "bear arms", ever since Julius Caesar used this phrase (Latin: arma ferre) in his Gallic Wars to mean carrying weapons for the purpose of military service only?

      Roger Algase
      Attorney at Law
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