New Pew Survey — 26% Of U.S. Muslims Support Suicide Bombing — Only 40% Believe Arabs Caused 9/11
May 29, 2007

There are 2.3 million U.S. Muslims,
not 7 million as some claim

The first nationwide survey of Muslim Americans, carried out by Pew Associates, has revealed that more than a quarter of Muslim Americans (26%) under the age of 30 believe that suicide bombings to defend Islam are justified in at least some circumstances. According to this Pew Global Attitudes survey, “younger Muslims in the U.S. are much more likely than older Muslim Americans to say that suicide bombing in the defense of Islam can be at least sometimes justified.”

Other findings in the Pew Survey:

  • Only 40% acknowledge that Arabs orchestrated the 9/11 terrorist attacks, while 32% declined to answer the question.

  • 16% of Muslim Americans believe that the rights and needs of Palestinian Arabs cannot be taken care of as long as Israel exists.

  • Only 26% of Muslim Americans believe that the war on terrorism is a “sincere effort,” compared with 67% of the general public.

  • 60% of Muslim Americans under the age of 30 regard themselves as Muslim first, Americans second, while only
    25% regard themselves as American first (47% of the entire population of Muslim Americans regard themselves as Muslim first and American second, with only 28% regarding themselves as American first).

  • Only a small majority — 58% — of Muslim Americans have a very unfavorable view of Al-Qaeda. Also of great concern is the fact that over a quarter of Muslim Americans declined to indicate their view of Al-Qaeda).

  • Only a slight majority — 51% — of Muslim Americans are concerned about the rise of Islamist extremism around world.

The survey, which estimates the U.S. Muslim population to be 2.3 million, emphasized the more positive findings, describing Muslim Americans overall as “middle class and mostly mainstream,” socially assimilated and happy. Yet, however prosperous and settled Muslim Americans may be, these findings reveal a disturbing level of extremism in a large segment of American Muslims.

Analysis by Muslim moderates:

  • Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, chairman of the Arizona-based American Islamic Forum for Democracy : “We should be disturbed that 26 percent of these young people support an ideology in which the ends justify the means … the survey also found that only 40 percent of the overall American Muslim population would even admit that Arabs were behind 9/11. They’re in denial, refusing to take moral responsibility, and the radicals will feed on this,” (, May 23)

  • Dr. Tawfik Hamid, former member of the Islamist terrorist group Jemaah Islamiya, now a Muslim reformer : “While the survey has been represented in the media as proof of moderation among American Muslims, the actual results should yield the opposite conclusion. If, as the Pew study estimates, there are 2.35 million Muslims in America, that means there are a substantial number of people in the U.S. who think suicide bombing is sometimes justified. Similarly, if 5% of American Muslims support al Qaeda, that’s more than 100,000 people” ( Wall Street Journal, May 24).

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We have reason for profound concern at these findings about the attitudes of Muslim Americans. Despite being in the main a settled, prosperous community, Muslims are clearly not mainstream in their general political and moral views. A community in which a quarter of the people justify the abomination of suicide bombings is one that poses a potentially serious threat to the lives of other Americans. When the views held are so extreme, it is no reassurance that only a minority of people in a given community hold them, especially when that minority is large, not merely a tiny fringe.

“One other important and easily missed statistic emerges from this survey — the Pew survey puts the size of the Muslim American population at around 2.35 million — far less than the 6 -7 million that is routinely announced by some Islamist organizations, like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The Pew survey research, which uses Census Bureau data on immigrants’ nativity and nationality, is also broadly consistent with other recent reputable studies, such as the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, which found a total of 1.8 million Muslim Americans, and that by the University of Chicago’s Tom Smith, whose 2000 study put the Muslim American population at 1,886,000. In fact, it is possible that the latest Pew study even somewhat overestimates the present number of Muslim Americans. Be that as it may, the Pew survey figure is an important statistic for the media that often uncritically accepts whatever claims are made by Islamist organizations, which have an obvious interest in inflating the figures.

“We at ZOA, will do everything we can to make Members of Congress and the American public aware of these disturbing results which show that Muslim Americans may not be as mainstream and moderate as all of us had hoped.”

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