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Poll: A quarter of younger Muslim Americans support suicide bombings in some circumstances

USA Today | May 23, 2007

The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found in a national survey that nearly 80% of Muslims in the USA say suicide bombings are never justified to "defend Islam," but a quarter of those under 30 think such attacks are OK in some circumstances.

"It is a hair-raising number," Radwa Masmoudi, head of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy , tells the AP .

The wire service, which describes the poll as one of the most exhaustive examinations of Muslim opinion in the United States, says: the data revealed a community that in many ways blends comfortably into society. Its largely mainstream members express nearly as much happiness with their lives and communities as the general public does, show a broad willingness to adopt American customs, and have income and education levels similar to others in the U.S.

Even so, the survey revealed noteworthy pockets of discontent.

A quarter of the respondents didn't express an opinion when asked whether they held a favorable or unfavorable view of al-Qaeda. (About 5% say they have a favorable view of the terrorist group.)

Read the full report here .

"We have crazies just like other faiths have them," Eide Alawan, an employee of the Islamic Society of North America , one of the nation's largest mosques, tells the wire service. Alawan says killing innocents goes against the tenets of Islam.

One of the key findings of the survey: Muslim Americans reject Islamic extremism by larger margins than do Muslim minorities in Western European countries. However, there is somewhat more acceptance of Islamic extremism in some segments of the U.S. Muslim public than others. Fewer native-born African American Muslims than others completely condemn al Qaeda. In addition, younger Muslims in the U.S. are much more likely than older Muslim Americans to say that suicide bombing in the defense of Islam can be at least sometimes justified. Nonetheless, absolute levels of support for Islamic extremism among Muslim Americans are quite low, especially when compared with Muslims around the world.

For some of the political findings from the poll, check out this posting at USA TODAY's On Politics blog.


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