Survey: Negative views of Islam growing in U.S.
Claudia Deane and Darryl Fears
Mar. 9, 2006 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - As the war in Iraq grinds into its fourth year, a growing proportion of Americans are expressing unfavorable views of Islam, and a majority now say that Muslims are disproportionately prone to violence, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The poll indicated that nearly half of Americans, 46 percent, have a negative view of Islam, 7 percentage points higher than in the tense months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and on the Pentagon, when Muslims were often targeted for violence.
The survey comes at a time of increasing tension, as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq show little sign of ending and as members of Congress seek to block the Bush administration's attempt to hire an Arab company to manage some operations at several of the nation's ports. Also, Americans are reading news of deadly protests in the Arab world over a Danish cartoon depicting the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.
According to the poll, the proportion of Americans who believe that Islam helps to stoke violence against non-Muslims has more than doubled since the attacks, from 14 percent in January 2002 to 33 percent today.
The survey also said that one in three Americans has heard prejudiced comments about Muslims lately. In a separate question, slightly more (43 percent) reported having heard negative remarks about Arabs. One in four Americans admitted harboring prejudice toward Muslims, the same proportion that expressed some personal bias against Arabs.
Though the two groups are often linked in popular discourse, most of the world's Muslims are not of Arab descent. For example, the country with the world's largest Muslim population is Indonesia.
A total of 1,000 randomly selected Americans were interviewed March 2-5 for this Post-ABC News poll. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Americans who said they understood Islam were more likely to see the religion overall as peaceful and respectful. But they were no less likely to say it harbors harmful extremists, and they were also no less likely to have prejudiced feelings against Muslims themselves.