American Muslims Optimistic, But Still Face Prejudice

CNS offers some interesting results from a new poll:

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- American Muslims are more optimistic about their future than people of other religions are about their own, though Muslims say they regularly contend with suspicion and lack of respect for their faith.?? A decade after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, new results of polling by Gallup's Abu Dhabi center also finds a great deal of similarity between American Muslims and Jews about issues such as opposition to the Iraq War and whether Muslims face prejudice.

...

By large majorities, the study found Muslim Americans optimistic about life today (averaging 7 on a 10-point scale) and five years from now (averaging 8.4 on that scale). Among other faith groups, the numbers were similar -- nearly all averaging more than 7 on the 10-point scale.

...

The study found Muslims to be more like Jews than other religious groups in their views on an assortment of topics. For example, 83 percent of Muslims and 74 percent of Jews polled said the United States made a mistake by sending troops to Iraq. Among other categories reported, the only group in which a majority (67 percent) said the Iraq War was a mistake was those listing themselves as "no religion/atheist/agnostic." The figure for Catholics describing the war as a mistake was 49 percent, for Protestants 45 percent and for Mormons 32 percent.

Jews were even more likely than Muslims to say "in general, most Americans are prejudiced toward Muslim Americans," at 66 percent. Sixty percent of Muslims agreed with that statement, compared to 51 percent of Catholics, 48 percent of Protestants, 47 percent of Mormons and 54 percent listing no religious ties.

Muslims and Jews also were likelier than other faith groups to say Muslims in the United States are loyal to the country. That statement was said to apply to Muslims by 93 percent of Muslims, 80 percent of Jews, 69 percent of those listing no religious ties, 59 percent of Catholics, and 56 percent each of Mormons and Protestants.

Rabbi David Saperstein, director and counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said at the news conference that some of those areas of commonality may stem from the Jewish view of their people as "quintessential victims throughout the history of the world.

"??This also has made American Jews sympathetic historically to the plight of African-Americans, he said. But another factor is that American Jews, like American Muslims, tend to be highly educated, which would help explain some similarity of views, said Rabbi Saperstein.

Nearly half of Muslims, 48 percent, said they have personally experienced racial or religious discrimination. The next greatest affirmative response to that question was from Mormons, at 31 percent, with 21 percent of Jews, 20 percent of Catholics and 18 percent of Protestants agreeing.

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