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Survey: U.S. Muslims Assimilated, Opposed to Extremism

Native-born African American Muslims, who represent about 20 percent of the total Muslim population, are its most disillusioned segment, the report shows. They are more skeptical than foreign-born Muslims of the idea that hard work pays off. About 13 percent are satisfied with the way things are going, compared with 29 percent of other native-born Muslims and 45 percent of Muslim immigrants.

One of the poll's most striking findings, Kohut said, is that African American Muslims are considerably more likely than immigrant Muslims to express support for al-Qaeda.

Nine percent of African American Muslims expressed a favorable attitude toward Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization, while 36 percent held a very unfavorable view. Among foreign-born Muslims, 3 percent had a favorable view of al-Qaeda while 63 percent chose "very unfavorable."

Jamal, the Princeton professor, said the data seem to indicate that African American Muslims are sympathetic to the goals but not the means of al-Qaeda, because 85 percent said suicide bombing is rarely or never justified. She speculated that they may see al-Qaeda "not just as the force behind terrorist attacks . . . but as resistance to a status quo that is seen to treat them unfairly."

The poll found that U.S. Muslims overwhelmingly oppose the war in Iraq, while the general population is closely split on that question. Muslims also oppose the war in Afghanistan, 48 percent to 35 percent. The reverse view prevails in the general populace, which supports the Afghan war by nearly two to one.

Muslims under age 30 are more religious than their elders, as well as more inclined to support suicide bombing and more likely to identify themselves as Muslims first, then Americans, the poll found.

Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, said the Washington-based nonprofit organization spent $1 million on the poll. It surveyed 1,050 Muslim adults in four languages -- English, Arabic, Urdu and Farsi -- and paid them $50 each for their time.

To generate the sample, Pew used randomly dialed telephone numbers to reach more than 57,000 households. In addition, it gleaned likely Muslim names from a commercial database and re-contacted some English-speaking Muslim households that had been identified in other surveys since 2000. The overall margin of sampling error was plus or minus five percentage points.

One finding likely to generate controversy is Pew's estimate of 2.35 million Muslims in the United States, including 1.5 million adults. Because the U.S. Census does not ask about religious identity, there has been no previous, widely accepted estimate of the Muslim population. Smaller, less random surveys have come up with lower numbers, while some Muslim groups have contended, based on loose methodology, that there are 7 million Muslims or more.

Polling director Jon Cohen and polling analyst Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.

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