US Muslims optimistic, but face discrimination: poll

AFP , Wednesday 3 Aug 2011

A poll of US residents on happiness, discrimination, perceptions of the US, political and economic outlook reveal 60% of Muslims are happy, despite low ratings in other areas

US Muslims are more optimistic about the future than other faith groups, but while they overwhelmingly reject terrorism, nearly half report discrimination, a poll found Tuesday.

The survey was carried out ahead of the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks and looked at how well integrated the 2.6 million Muslims living in the United States are in the wake of the "war on terror" launched by former president George W. Bush after the deadly plane hijackings.

It found that Muslims tend to be more optimistic about both the economy and politics following the election of President Barack Obama, who enjoys 80 per cent approval among Muslims, higher than from any other major faith group.

Sixty percent of Muslims said they were "thriving" in the United States, compared to 61 per cent of Jews, 54 per cent of Catholics and 52 per cent of Protestants, according to the poll.

Only 37 per cent of Muslims said they were "struggling," less than both Christian groups but a single percentage point higher than Jews, while just three per cent of Muslims said they were "suffering."

Fifty-four per cent of Muslims said the US economy was "getting better," a far higher percentage than any other religious group.

"Muslim Americans are satisfied with their current lives and more optimistic than other faith groups that things are getting better," said the report, which did not distinguish between different Muslim groups.

However, 48 per cent of Muslims surveyed said they had "personally experienced racial or religious discrimination" in the past year, compared to 31 per cent of Mormons, 21 per cent of Jews and 20 per cent of Catholics.

Muslims tend to have more negative views of the US military and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the report said, attributing such feelings to the "war on terror" seen by some as focusing heavily on Muslims.

Muslim Americans are also far more likely than other groups to blame unfavorable views of the United States in the Muslim world on the US government's actions, rather than "misinformation," the report found.

However, Muslim Americans also led all other groups in opposing attacks on civilians by individuals or groups, with 89 per cent opposing such actions.

The poll by the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center -- a Gallup research hub in the United Arab Emirates -- used data from interviews conducted between January 2008 and April 2011 with 868,264 adults, including 3,883 Muslims.

The other faith groups examined in the poll were Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Mormons and "no religion/atheist/agnostic."

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