Survey Reveals that Americans Hold Increasingly Negative Perceptions of Islam

March 9, 2006

Source: The Washington Post

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/08/AR2006030802221.html

On March 9, 2006 The Washington Post reported, "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 found that nearly half of Americans -- 46 percent -- have a negative view of Islam, seven percentage points higher than in the tense months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, when Muslims were often targeted for violence... Conservative and liberal experts said Americans' attitudes about Islam are fueled in part by political statements and media reports that focus almost solely on the actions of Muslim extremists. 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 found that one in three Americans have 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 to harboring prejudice toward Muslims, the same proportion that expressed some personal bias against Arabs... 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."