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Muslims in America

"The first-ever, nationwide, random sample survey of Muslim Americans finds them to be largely assimilated, happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world." writes the PEW Research Center, but also points out: "A majority (53%) of all Muslim Americans say that, since the 9/11 attacks, it has become more difficult to be a Muslim in the United States. This view is particularly prevalent among highly educated and wealthier Muslims."
Therefore, I recommend Morgan Spurlocks's funny and informative documentary: "A West Virginia Christian lives as a Muslim in Dearborne USA for 30 days." Spurlock has made a whole TV series about 30 day exchanges into a different culture. Other episodes are about living with minimum wage etc. As a Fulbrighter I find the concept of exchange programs very appealing. Video works, but you might have to click twice on play in Internet Explorer:


"One in four younger U.S. Muslims support suicide bombings at least rarely" writes the International Herald Tribune based on the PEW Research Center survey. More about this and US Muslim opinions on 9/11, Iraq and Afghanistan below the fold:
PEW Research Center:

Muslim Americans reject Islamic extremism by larger margins than do Muslim minorities in Western European countries. However, there is somewhat more acceptance of Islamic extremism in some segments of the U.S. Muslim public than others. Fewer native-born African American Muslims than others completely condemn al Qaeda. (...)
Relatively few Muslim Americans believe the U.S.-led war on terror is a sincere effort to reduce terrorism, and many doubt that Arabs were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Just 40% of Muslim Americans say groups of Arabs carried out those attacks.

"One in four younger U.S. Muslims support suicide bombings at least rarely" is the headline of the International Herald Tribune article about this survey:
While nearly 80 percent of U.S. Muslims say suicide bombings of civilians to defend Islam cannot be justified, 13 percent say they can be, at least rarely. That sentiment is strongest among those younger than 30. Two percent of them say it can often be justified, 13 percent say sometimes and 11 percent say rarely. (...)
Federal officials have warned that the U.S. must be on guard against homegrown terrorism, as the British suffered with the London transit bombings of 2005. Even so, U.S. Muslims are far less accepting of suicide attacks than Muslims in many other nations. In surveys Pew conducted last year, support in some Muslim countries exceeded 50 percent, while it was considered justifiable by about one in four Muslims in Britain and Spain, and one in three in France.
In Germany, support for terrorism among Muslims is smaller. See the PEW graphic to the right

Also in the IHT:
•  Only 5 percent of U.S. Muslims expressed favorable views of the terrorist group al-Qaida, though about a fourth did not express an opinion.
•  By six to one, they say the U.S. was wrong to invade Iraq, while a third say the same about Afghanistan — far deeper than the opposition expressed by the general U.S. public.
The survey estimates there are roughly 2.35 million Muslim Americans. It found that among adults, two-thirds are from abroad while a fifth are U.S.-born blacks.
The Christian Science Monitor (hat tip: CB) wrote about "The myth of Muslim support for terror" in February 2007:
The survey, conducted in December 2006 by the University of Maryland's prestigious Program on International Public Attitudes, shows that only 46 percent of Americans think that "bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians" are "never justified," while 24 percent believe these attacks are "often or sometimes justified." Contrast those numbers with 2006 polling results from the world's most-populous Muslim countries – Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria. Terror Free Tomorrow, the organization I lead, found that 74 percent of respondents in Indonesia agreed that terrorist attacks are "never justified"; in Pakistan, that figure was 86 percent; in Bangladesh, 81 percent. Do these findings mean that Americans are closet terrorist sympathizers?

Anne Applebaum writes in the Washington Post about "The Discreet Charm of the Terrorist Cause"
Since the bombing attacks in London last month, a welter of columnists, writers, talking heads and ordinary people have puzzled over the mystery of British Muslims, one in four of whom recently told pollsters that they sympathize with the July 7 suicide bombers. The idea that British Muslims, whose parents received asylum, found jobs, and made lives in Britain, could be so deeply affected by the "oppression" of Muslims in countries they have never visited seems incomprehensible. The notion that events in distant deserts should lead the middle-class inhabitants of London or Leeds to admire terrorists seems inexplicable.
But why should this phenomenon be so incomprehensible or inexplicable, at least to Americans? We did, after all, once tolerate a similar phenomenon ourselves. I am talking about the sympathy for the Irish Republican Army that persisted for decades in some Irish American communities and is only now fading away. Like British Muslim support for Muslim extremist terrorism, Irish American support for Irish terrorism came in many forms. There were Irish Americans who waved the Irish flag once a year on St. Patrick's Day and admired the IRA's cause but felt queasy about the methods.
There were Irish Americans who collected money for Catholic charities in Northern Ireland without condoning the IRA at all. There were also Irish Americans who, while claiming to be "aiding the families of political prisoners," were in fact helping to arm IRA terrorists. Throughout the 1970s, until Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher asked President Ronald Reagan to stop them, they were the IRA's primary source of funding. And even after that they were widely tolerated. I concede there is one major difference: The Irish terrorists were setting off their bombs across the ocean and not in New York or Boston, which somehow made the whole thing seem less real. But in Britain the explosions were real enough. In 1982 -- the year an IRA bomb killed eight people in Hyde Park -- four IRA men were arrested in New York after trying to buy surface-to-air missiles from an FBI agent.


ENDNOTE: Check out Mark Burgess' posts in the WSI Brussels Blog: Europhobia, Islamaphobia and American Muslims Surveyed and Eurabia Rising: Is the Enemy Really at Europe’s Gate? with the EU's future flag ;-)

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Deborah on :

Joerg, Thanks for posting this video and passing it out through the F-list. I found extremelly interesting the scheme the producers made for it, going from profiling and discrimination on the basis of looks to the discussion of why some muslims find themselves in the situation of becoming suicide-bombers. The documentary is light and the issues are not deeply discussed but I believe it truly fulfils its purpose. I only found unfortunate that there continues to be a misunderstanding between the difference of being arab and being muslim. The other critic I would make is the lack of self-reflection that the "hero" of the video has, often pointing out "weird" things in muslim religion, without putting into perspective his own practices. This is barely hinted out in the issue of the bells vs. the call for prayer but it is not retaken elsewhere. I believe looking at ourselves and our own 'weirdnesses' and faults, and realising, the deep human nature found in all religions and customs is a useful departure point to promote understanding an tolerance and peace. Deborah Mexican, writing from Switzerland

Nicole on :

Thanks for this posting. It thought the video was very interesting, but I would have liked to see more information about how the 30 days changed the main character. Nicole

Amelie on :

Thanks for posting it! (And yes, I agree with the two prior comments.) It was fun to watch the video as a non-American and see how very American this family and community still live (basketball, converted bowling hall, the appartment and furniture, the car, the cake, etc.) - I guess both the main character and the usual audience probably didn't realize that... He was feeling so much in a different world, and only as an outsider you notice he's not that far from the proverbial heart of America. Of course, the main character (by the whole set-up of the project) was focussing on the differences, and besides he *knew* he was still in the US, so why should he remark on the similarities, but still I doubt he noticed them (after all, how should he?). Anyways, it would be great to have a larger-scale exchange program like that. I know there are some academic exchange programs within the US etc., but they don't usually seem to immerge the participants anywhere close to that deeply.

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