Americans link Islam and violence: Poll

Associated Press, July 25, 2003
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A growing number of Americans associate Islam with violence, according to a new survey that examined issues likely to impact the 2004 election.

A significant shift in the number of the people who associate Islam with violence has occurred in the last year—a period that follows the September 11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent war to oust the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Forty-four per cent of those surveyed by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press said they believe Islam encourages violence—a 20 per cent increase from March 2002. At the same time, 51 per cent of those surveyed said they have a favourable view of Muslim Americans.

“For all the rise in concerns about Islam, we don’t see much of an overt increase in hostility toward Muslim Americans,” said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center.

Muslim Americans have complained that violence against them and their institutions has been on the rise in the last year, said Mohamed Nimer, research director at the Council of American-Islamic Relations.

The perception among many Americans is the animosity is mutual. Forty-nine per cent of those surveyed believe that a significant portion of Muslims around the world hold anti-American views, an increase from 36 per cent a year ago.

The survey also showed strong support for Israel among white evangelical Christians, with seven in 10 believing the literal interpretation of the Bible that Israel was given to the Jews by God. Overall, the number that holds that view is 44 per cent.

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