9/11 Survey: Many Americans Uncomfortable With Muslims

As America nears the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a new survey details how the public feels about Muslims, freedoms and pluralism.

"Ten years after 9/11, Americans continue to grapple with issues of security, tolerance, and pluralism – matters that lie at the heart of what it means to be American," said Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, in a statement.

"Americans strongly affirm broad First Amendment principles and respect for difference, but they don't always apply these principles evenly or consistently, particularly with regard to American Muslims and immigrants."

The survey was conducted by PRRI in August and asked such questions as whether they feel Muslims are an important part of the religious community in the United States and whether they view specific religious groups favorably or not.

Most religious groups are viewed relatively favorably in the United States, the survey found. Fifty-eight percent of the respondents said they hold a favorable view of American Muslims.

A majority (54 percent) also agreed that American Muslims are an important part of the religious community in the United States

Among white evangelicals, less than half (44 percent) reported holding a favorable view of American Muslims.

Many Americans were found to be uncomfortable around Muslims, with 46 percent saying they are uncomfortable with a mosque built near their home, 47 percent saying Islam and American values are incompatible and 48 percent saying they are uncomfortable with Muslim women wearing the burqa.

Overall, 60 percent of Americans agreed that too many Americans think that all Muslims are terrorists.

The survey also revealed that Americans were more likely to reject the notion that American Muslims want to establish Sharia law as the law of the land in the United States than agree with it. Sixty-one percent disagreed and only 30 percent agreed.

Notably, eight months ago, only 23 percent agreed that American Muslims ultimately wanted to establish Sharia law in the United States.

Fox News viewers were found to have more negative attitudes about American Muslims, with 52 percent agreeing that American Muslims want to establish Sharia law.

In other notable findings, 83 percent of Americans said they believe self-proclaimed Christians who commit violence in the name of Christianity are not really Christians; less than half (48 percent) believe self-proclaimed Muslims who commit acts of violence in the name of Islam are not really Muslims.

A majority (58 percent) disagreed that religion causes more problems in society than it solves

With regard to safety, 53 percent of Americans said they believe they are safer today from terrorism than they were before the attacks. At the same time, 77 percent said Americans today have less personal freedom.

Only 21 percent reported that they think America is more respected in the world today.

Also, a majority (53 percent) of Americans said they believe the growing number of immigrants strengthens American society; 42 percent think newcomers threaten traditional American customs and values.

The joint report by PRRI and the Brookings Institution is titled "What it Means to be American: Attitudes in an Increasingly Diverse America Ten Years after 9/11" and is available here.

Results were based on 2,450 bilingual (Spanish and English) telephone interviews. Among respondents, 57 percent said religion was very important or the most important thing in their lives; 42 percent identified as a Christian conservative; 30 percent said they had a conversation with a Muslim at least occasionally; and 14 percent said they know "a lot" about the religious beliefs and practices of Muslims.

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