WASHINGTON - October 4 - According to a poll released today by a prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group, 1-in-4 Americans believes a number of anti-Muslim stereotypes and negative images of Muslims are 16 times more prevalent than positive ones.
The poll, sponsored by the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and conducted by an independent research firm, was designed to understand what Americans think about Muslims, identify variables associated with anti-Muslim prejudice and to seek out ways in which to combat the Islamophobic prejudice that often leads to discrimination or even hate crimes.
FOR EXAMPLE, SEE: "Twin Cities' Muslims Detail Vandalism Attacks" http://www.startribune.com/stories/462/5013716.html http://www.kare11.com/news/news_article.aspx'storyid=70097
Poll results include:
- More than one-fourth of survey respondents agreed with stereotypes such as "Muslims teach their children to hate" and "Muslims value life less than other people."
- When asked what comes to mind when they hear "Muslim," 32 percent of respondents made negative comments. Only two percent had a positive response.
- Those with the most negative attitudes toward Islam and Muslims tend to be less-educated white males who are politically conservative.
- General knowledge of Islam is low but the presence of Muslim friends and colleagues drives more enlightened attitudes.
- African-Americans hold more favorable attitudes about Muslims than do whites.
- While half of respondents believed that American Muslims are "cooperating" in the war on terror, 50 percent did not believe that they are actively "condemning" terrorist acts.
- Most Americans believe that the terrorists are misusing the teachings of Islam.
- About half of Americans hold one or more favorable attitudes about Muslims, such as "Muslims have family-oriented values" and "Muslims have contributed to civilization."
- Those who believe they are knowledgeable about Islam tend to have more positive attitudes.
"As a nation that values tolerance and equality, we need to recognize the growing anti-Muslim prejudice in our society and join together as Americans to combat this divisive phenomenon," said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad.
"It is clear from the results of this survey that we have our work cut out for us in terms of educating other Americans about Islam and providing opportunities for positive interactions with the Muslim community."
Ahmad said that CAIR will be encouraging local Muslim communities across the United States to hold open houses for people of other faiths during Ramadan, the Islamic fast that begins in mid-October.
Survey results were based on 1000 telephone interviews conducted by California-based Genesis Research Associates (http://www.genesisresearch.net ) between June 23 and July 2, 2004. Interviewers spoke with a gender-balanced random sample of respondents across the continental United States. Margin of error for the poll (with 95 percent confidence) is plus/minus 3.1 percent. CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 29 regional offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.