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Poll: U.S. Muslims increase political activity since 9/11

Poll: U.S. Muslims increase political activity since 9/11

According to results of a poll released today by a national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group, roughly half of American Muslims surveyed say they have increased their social (58 percent), political (45 percent), interfaith (52 percent) and public relations activities (59 percent) since the 9/11 terror attacks. (A number of open-ended questions on the poll are yet to be tabulated.)

Almost three-fourths (70 percent) of Muslim respondents said they feel free to practice their faith without restrictions and almost all (86 percent) said they had experienced an act of kindness from people of other faiths. Those figures are balanced by the high number of respondents (88 percent) who said they knew of at least one person who suffered anti-Muslim bias or discrimination in the past year. Fifty-six percent said they themselves had experienced discrimination.

The poll of 644 individuals, conducted by the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in August, indicates that almost half of American Muslims (49 percent) say they are now more public about their Muslim identity and have increased donations to local or national Islamic organizations (42 percent). (Surveys were faxed and e-mailed to Muslim individuals and organizations nationwide.)

The survey also looked at American Muslim views on political issues and on the current list of presidential candidates. When asked which Democratic Party candidate they would vote for, respondents favored Howard Dean (26 percent), Dennis Kucinich (11 percent), John Kerry (7 percent), and Carol Moseley Braun (6 percent). Only 2 percent said they would vote for President Bush. The president also fared poorly on domestic and international issues of importance to Muslims. Only one-in-ten respondents supported the president’s Iraq policy.

When asked to name the political party that best represents the interests of the American Muslim community, more respondents named the Democratic Party (27 percent) and Green party (25 percent) than the Republican Party (3 percent). A large number (44 percent) said none of the parties represented their interests. When asked to name the media outlet worthy of praise for coverage of Islam and Muslims, PBS topped the list. Fox News was viewed by respondents as the media outlet exhibiting the most biased coverage.

On domestic issues, Muslims said they support affirmative action in higher education (68 percent) and interfaith dialogue (89 percent), favor lowering taxes (55 percent) as a way to boost the economy, and are split on the issue of school vouchers (46 percent in favor, 32 percent opposed).

Other poll results:

  • 34 percent of respondents were of South Asian heritage; 23 percent from the Arabic-speaking world
  • 83 percent are registered to vote; 63 percent voted in 2000
  • 34 percent attended a mosque at least once a week; 37 percent do so more frequently
  • 70 percent rated CAIR’s performance as 8 or higher on a scale from 1 to 10; 10 being excellent.

    “The results of this survey, one of several scheduled prior to the 2004 elections, show a resilient religious community that is diverse in its ethnic, political and ideological make-up,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. “The tragic events of two years ago have prompted Muslims to reach out to their neighbors, become more active in educating others about Islam and renew their commitment to defending America and its civil liberties.”

    Muslims from more than 41 different states (and the District of Columbia) responded to the survey, with the most responses coming from California (21 percent), Texas (8 percent), Virginia (8 percent), New York (7 percent), Florida (7 percent), Illinois (6 percent), Michigan (4 percent) and New Jersey (4 percent).

    CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 16 offices nationwide and in Canada.


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