American Muslims are younger, more optimistic about their future in this country and less confident in the U.S. military than members of other major faith groups, a new poll has found.
The report by Gallup, meant to measure American Muslims’ civic engagement, found the percentage of people who described themselves as “thriving” (compared with “struggling” or “suffering”) jumped up nearly 20 percent since the last time Gallup asked the question in 2008. This is also the same period that Muslim leaders say has been the most oppressive for Muslims in this country, with rhetoric against their faith group appearing to rise.
Gallup analysts credited Muslims’ optimism in good part to the election of President Obama, who has not appeared at an American mosque since taking office but has often spoke out about the need for Muslim equality and civil rights. Only 9 percent of American Muslims identify as Republicans, Gallup says.
The results were to be released Tuesday morning and discussed by a high-profile panel at the National Press Club. Participants include Imam Mohamed Magid, of the prominent Herndon mosque ADAMS; Paul Monteiro, of the White House Office of Public Engagement; and longtime D.C. faith advocate Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
The study was done by the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center, a new branch of Gallup based in Dubai that is meant to expand polling across the Muslim world. It is a partnership between Gallup and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
The poll is one of the largest recent surveys done of Muslim-Americans, who are difficult and expensive to accurately poll because they are a relatively small group. It reflects the recent increase in funding and interest in creating hard data about the American Muslim community.
The study shows the complexity of American identity. Compared to other religious groups, Muslims believe more deeply in the value of elections, but they are the least likely to be registered to vote. They also have the least confidence in the U.S. military and the FBI – two bodies most associated with the war on terror, which many American Muslims feel has chipped away at their civil liberties.
Other faith groups questions Muslims’ loyalty to the United States, with Protestants least likely (56 percent) to see Muslims as loyal. Sixty-five percent of Muslims say anti-American views in Muslim countries are “based on what the U.S. has done,” as opposed to being “based mostly on misinformation provided by the media and government” of those countries.
Muslim Americans are particularly divided in their own community about whether they have more of an obligation than other Americans to speak out against terrorism.