Peter King hearing shows 'sharply polarized' attitudes toward Islam
Americans who are older, conservative in their religion and politics, and Republican are more likely to be wary of Muslims in this country, according to polls conducted before Rep. Peter King's hearing on 'radicalization' among American Muslims.
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Another new national survey – by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press – finds the American public evenly split – 40 percent agree, 42 percent disagree – on whether “the Islamic religion is more likely than others to encourage violence.”Skip to next paragraph
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As with the Gallup poll, Pew finds important distinctions among those surveyed.
While 58 percent of those younger than 30 say Islam does not encourage violence more than other religions, a plurality of those 50 and older (45 percent) says it does. White, evangelical Protestants are more likely to see Islam as potentially violent (60 percent) than do mainline Protestants (42 percent) or Roman Catholics (39 percent).
Tea partyers associate Islam with violence
“Political and ideological divisions are even wider,” reports Pew. By roughly 3 to 1 (66 percent to 21 percent), conservative Republicans say Islam encourages violence more than other religions. The numbers are virtually reversed for liberal Democrats. Of those who agree with the tea party movement, two-thirds say Islam is more associated with violence.
Political inclinations aside, public worries about Muslims in the US have grown in recent years, as threats of terrorist attacks tied to radical Islam have increased and some attacks (such as the Fort Hood shootings) have succeeded.
In March 2002 – six months after the massive attacks of 9/11 – just 25 percent of those surveyed by Pew saw Islam as more likely to encourage violence while twice as many (51 percent) disagreed.
While the country was still reeling from the attacks in New York and at the Pentagon that had killed thousands, then-President Bush, as well as other political and religious leaders, stressed that Islam itself – and certainly the great majority of American Muslims – should not be blamed for terrorism.
Today, after nearly a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the arrest of some American Muslims charged with plotting attacks, and concerns about Muslim Brotherhood ties to political turmoil in several Arab countries, the percentage of the US public associating Islam with violence has gone from 25 percent to 40 percent.