The Formidable Islamist Minority in America

A summary of polls about the ideological makeup of the Muslim-American community shows that the majority is moderate, but there is a formidable minority influenced by Islamist doctrine. A significant number are refusing to give answers or are still figuring out where they stand on issues like terrorism and Sharia Law.

The number one question is how many Muslim-Americans support terrorism. A 2011 Pew poll found very little support for Al-Qaeda, with only 2% viewing the terrorist group very favorably, 3% somewhat favorably and 11% somewhat unfavorably. About 70% view Al-Qaeda very unfavorably, an increase of 12% since 2007.

There are 2.6 million Muslim-Americans, a number that is expected to rise to 6.2 million by 2030. This means there are 130,000 Muslim-Americans who will admit that they view Al-Qaeda favorably and that assumes there are no supporters among the 14% who did not answer the question. Plus, the survey did not poll support for Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups.

Only 1% of Muslim-Americans say violence against civilians to defend Islam is “often” justified. About 7% say it is sometimes justified and 5% say it is rarely justified. Approximately 81% say attacks on civilians are never justified. Of course, the definition of “civilian” varies. Hamas supporters, for example, argue that there is no such thing as an Israeli civilian. The survey did not poll support for attacks on soldiers.

The 2007 Pew poll found that about 49% feel mosques should stay out of politics and about the same amount feel the Koran should not be taken entirely literally. The survey concluded that Muslim immigrants are more moderate on this issue than those who were born here.

“Native-born Muslims express overwhelming support for the notion that mosques should express their views on social and political matters. By contrast, a large majority of foreign-born Muslims—many of whom are from countries where religion and politics are often closely intertwined—say that mosques should be kept out of political matters,” the report said.

Perhaps the most surprising findings were related to social issues. The Pew 2011 poll shows that 39% feel that homosexuality should be accepted by society, an increase of 12% from 2007. On the issue of multiple wives, a Wenzel Strategies poll released in October found 22% support allowing polygamy.

The findings related to Sharia Law and specific elements of Islamist doctrine were less comforting.

The Wenzel poll found that almost 40% strongly or somewhat agree that Sharia Law should be the supreme law of the country. A slight majority oppose that proposition, with 35% strongly disagreeing and 18% somewhat disagreeing. However, when presented with a more refined question about what to do if Sharia conflicts with the U.S. Constitution, 70% would follow the Constitution and only 9% would follow Sharia Law. About 21% were undecided.

There is high support for restricting freedom of speech in compliance with Sharia Law.

About 59% feel that criticism of Islam or its founder is not permitted under the First Amendment. Only 41% disagreed. Shockingly, 52% strongly or somewhat support criminal charges against those that criticize or parody Islam, while 33% oppose it. Nearly 15% strongly or somewhat support executing critics of their religion. About 70% strongly oppose it and around 11% only somewhat oppose it.

Only about 30% believe that Americans have the right to encourage Muslims to leave their faith. Around 45% disagree. Note that this question isn’t about whether people should proselytize to Muslims. It’s about whether doing so is a constitutional right.

The polls indicate that the Muslim-American community is more moderate than its counterparts overseas on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A 2011 Gallup poll found that over 80% support a two-state solution. However, the 2011 Pew poll shows only 61% believe a two-state solution that respects the rights of Palestinians is possible. About 20% feel it is impossible, matching Gallup’s result.

The Wenzel poll directly asked Muslim-Americans whether Israel has a right to exist. About 46% strongly agreed that it does and 21% somewhat agree. Only 8% strongly disagree, essentially supporting the elimination of the state of Israel. Another 8% somewhat disagree that Israel has a right to exist and 16% were unsure.

The campaign to demonize the U.S. government’s counter-terrorism efforts by Islamists and Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups has been fruitful. The 2011 Pew poll found that 41% do not believe that the war on terrorism is a sincere effort to reduce terrorism, while slightly more (43%) believe it is. This is a huge improvement from 2007, when 55% felt the U.S. government had ulterior motives and only 26% felt it was sincere.

The 2007 Pew poll found strong support for 9/11 conspiracy theories. Only 40% of Muslim-Americans would say that Arabs perpetrated the attacks. Of the 28% that said Arabs were not involved, 7% blamed the U.S. government, 1% attributed it to an Israeli/Jewish plot and 2% blamed insane people or others. The remaining 18% of those who denied Arab involvement said they did not know who carried out the attacks or wouldn’t answer the question.

One important observation from the Gallup poll is that the Muslim-American community does not feel represented by any major Muslim-American organization with Muslim Brotherhood origins. The most popular one was the Council on American-Islamic Relations, followed by the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Muslim American Society and the Islamic Circle of North America, in declining order of popularity.

Altogether, only 25% of Muslim-American men and 19% of Muslim-American women chose one of these organizations when asked which one most represents their interests. This is remarkable because these organizations have been around for decades without any major challenge from within the community. This may be connected to the 2011 Pew poll’s finding that 48% feel that the Muslim-American leadership hasn’t done enough to speak out against extremism and only 34% feel they have.

The polls show there is a sharp divide in the Muslim-American community between those who completely reject Islamist doctrine and those who subscribe to it, in part or in whole. There is a significant number that is on the fence. Unfortunately, the U.S. government overlooks it.

The nominee for CIA director, John Brennan, won’t say “Islamist” or “jihadist.” The White House is regularly visited by the self-proclaimed Islamist leaders of the Muslim-American community that have actually been rejected by the community. The coordinator of the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Violent Extremism efforts emphasizes that it is focused on violence, not ideology.

You cannot be an Islamist terrorist without first being an Islamist. You cannot spread Islamist doctrine unless you are first a believer in that doctrine. We must recognize that this is a broader ideological conflict than just Al-Qaeda.

This article was sponsored by the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

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  • AdinaK

    Islamists, indeed. In fact, having "examined" their roots back in the 1990's (for a previous investigation), as well as during 2003 -2007, there is NO doubt where more than a minority of Muslim Americans stand.

    The following are some proofs, but there is so much more –

    and back in the 1990's, during this (hotter than hot) investigation –

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel –

  • Ben Cohen

    "A 2011 Pew poll found very little support for Al-Qaeda, with only 2% viewing the terrorist group very favorably, 3% somewhat favorably and 11% somewhat unfavorably. "

    At 3% that could be people who didn't understand the question or some other kind of survey error, I doubt Al Qaeda supporters would admit their support to a pollster.

  • Briz

    You forgot something important. According to the poll, the majority of american muslims consider themselves muslim first, american second. According to previous Pew Polls, european muslims also consider themselves muslim first, citizens of their country second. In contrast, christians are much more likely to prefer their country over their religion. And this is why it is much more likely for muslims to turn against their country and travel for jihad. I don't remember american christians traveling to fight on the side of, let say Serbia, against the US.

    • Cory Nelson

      Don't most Jews consider themselves Jewish First, loyal to Israel, and then American??

      • LibertarianToo


      • Ghostwriter

        No,Mr. Nelson,and if you believe that,you're an anti-semitic creep.

  • Liz

    I think Pew is Soros funded. Besides what evidence is there that the participants answered Honestly? The doctrine of Islam supports radicals.

  • Drukarnia

    Muslims now have the difficult position in many countries of Western Europe and the USA. Terrorist attacks and fundamentalism have made them black PR, which will be hard to get them.

  • richard shsrman

    winston churchill said it best in 1948 in THE GATHERING STORM: "MEIN KAMPF was the new KORAN".

    • slider 96

      WRONG , Churchill first warned about Wahabi muslims in 1921 . Dont confuse the two , besides , you have misquoted him,and have your dates wrong .

  • KarshiKhanabad

    Muslims in America should be asked about their views on gun control, especially in the current climate. Islamic teachings including the Pact of Umar are emphatic that "infidels" are forbidden to possess weapons of any kind. And millions of American kaffirs now frantically stocking up on guns & ammunition must be enough to make any Mohammedan's skin crawl.

  • Nightowl872

    Just remember, you must pay more attention to actions. It is OK for a muslim to lie to an infidel!!!

    • kafir4life

      It's more than OK. It's commanded and expected.

  • Atlas_Collins

    Islam is not a religion, it is an ideology. Islam was founded upon hatred and intolerance, was spread through violence, coercion and war and is maintained to this day through intimidation and fear.

    Muslims represent a clear and present danger to public safety since all muslims are enjoined by the tenets of their ideology to engage in jihad warfare against all non-muslims.

    In my opinion, all professed muslims in the United States should be interned and deported to the "muslim land" of their choice. Those that resist should be put down like rabid dogs.

    Islam Delenda Est!

    • Clare

      The only thing wrong with the Crusades is that we didn't win a couple of them. Maybe now though.

    • Kevin Stroup

      All religions are ideologies too. Most of them are not extolling the virtues of killing everyone who does not subscribe to their brand, however. Islam is another flavor of totalitarianism.

  • marios

    The Muslim Brotherhood “must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religious.”- Mohamed Akram.
    “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America.”
    May 22, 1991
    , Gulen, mufti Turkey origin, has stated that “in order to reach the ideal Muslim society every method and path is acceptable, [including] lying to people.”
    That is it. Reality is that it is world wide Islamists plot to rebuilt Caliphate using our democracy and both violent Jihad and non-violent Jihad penetrating and infiltrating in all institutes of Western countries.
    And we see it in WH now as well.

  • JacksonPearson

    Bullsh*t. What's going on with the Muslim population in Dearborn, Michigan is not exactly cool. Muslim's lay back until there's enough to gain a foothold, then they start demanding and scream Islamophobic this and that. They simply can't do like millions of other migrants and assimilate into American society. They keep one toe into the new world, and both feet in Muhammad's old sand dune world.

    • Choi

      Dearborn ,Michigan is a Jihadi BASE on American Soil and a short Bridge/Tunnel ride to Canada.
      One can only imagine WHO commutes between the two.

  • clarespark

    Last night's episode of NCIS made me worry about popular television and its potential alliance with the Obama administration. I started writing about the politics of this show several years ago:…. The episode of 1-8-12 was very violent and not good for the Jews OR Israel. "The Christianization of Ziva Daveed, NCIS."
    Ziva's father, the head of Mossad, is shown to be a murderer of an American journalist, and is killed, along with the NCIS director's wife, by an unidentified but possibly Israeli assailant who does not want peace between Israel and Iran.

    • Raymond in DC

      I used to enjoy NCIS, but the repeated slams against Mossad just turned me off. Earlier episodes included Mossad operatives operating illegally on US streets, another involving a rogue agent ultimately killed by Tony. In another, Ziva is sent on a mission and abandoned by Mossad somewhere in the Horn of Africa, only to be rescued by her American friends. Gibbs describes Mossad (or maybe it was just her father) as "not one of the good guys". Ziva subsequently disavows her homeland (Israel) and becomes an American.

      Ironically, only a few days ago the NY Times – which almost daily finds something about Israel to criticize – reported that Israeli intelligence (which might be Mossad or Military Intelligence) discovered that Syrian forces were assembling chemical weapons for delivery, and that subsequent warnings by the US, Russia and others based on that intelligence convinced Syria against such action.

      • clarespark

        Raymond, your comment was so good and had so many plot details, that I put it in my blog update. If you object, please write to me here, and I will take it down. Since I only know you as Raymond in DC that is how I identified you. I was very glad to get your additions to the ongoing plots of NCIS, because some had eluded me, and I needed all the evidence I could get.

    • A 22 Year Old Man

      Oh, shucks. I was thinking CBS was taking a middle-of-the-bigoted-road approach and implying that the Palestinian guy that Ziva's father met had secretly sent an assassin to kill him. After all, they made sure to tell us several times that only that man and the NCIS team knew David's father was in the US.

      But I expect too much from people (read: think too highly of their ability to make choices). You'll probably be right.

      Either way, I was disappointed with the preachy politics in the episode. I start liking a certain tv drama and sooner or later, they decide that they have to include an obligatory plot-line to either
      a) make out Israel to be the bad guys
      b) make out Christians to be the bad guys
      c) make out rural conservatives to be the bad guys
      d) make out Islamists to be the good guys, or at least the misunderstood victims
      e) make out homosexuals to be the victims
      f) make out radical atheists to be the "intellectuals" who heroically stand against "anti-science faith."

      It's entirely expected at this point. I don't think I'll see a point in even having a tv in my household by the time I have kids. Everything's degrading, even the "good" tv shows with decent writing.


      • A 22 Year Old Man

        I forgot to mention the obligatory "the US military/police force is evil and corrupt" plotline. How often is America bashed on tv and in movies? More often than not.

        • pat

          Your typical Liberal Hollywood trash.

  • songdongnigh

    One has to wonder what the answers to the Gallup, Pew and Wenzel polls would be if the respondents thought the exact same questions were being asked by an Al-Jazeera pollster.

    • Les Legato


  • Les Legato

    Allowing Islam into America is akin to injecting
    yourself with AIDS to prove how tolerant you are.

  • slider 96

    Understand Islam :it behooves ALL muslims to do TWO things -Observe the Five Pillars of Islam and to struggle [jihad] to attain The Goal of the Prophet . The Goal of the Prophet is world subjugation to Islam .
    The 'struggle ' to attain that Goal is " holy jihad " . Anything that stands in the way of that Goal is considered "UNJUST ". Therefore ANY and ALL means used to remove such obstructions that stand in the way are considered " JUSTICE " . Therefore the whole plethora of barbarism we see from the common practice of Taqiyya [ lieing ] to suicide bombing , to blowing up Israeli school children are ALL considered JUST , all are part of "holy jihad " . This is the dogma of islam . Polls are meaningless .

  • rightwingcanadian

    15% of american muslims somewhat or strongly agree critisism of islam should carry the death penalty, that alone shows enough evidence that islam does not have a place in the west.

  • Abdul Ameer

    Mauro is trying his best to be optimistic. He writes: “….the self-proclaimed Islamist leaders of the Muslim-American community that have actually been rejected by the community.” But, he has presented no evidence that these “self-proclaimed Islamist leaders” have been rejected. The poll indicated that only about 25% think that these leaders and organizations represent them, but that is hardly the same as rejection. Rejection would involve some sort of public statements against those “self-proclaimed Islamist leaders” and the positions they stand for; but we haven’t seen that — except for Dr. Jasser’s numerically insignificant group. The 25% for CAIR and ISNA, etc. is far, far more than Jasser can ever hope to have. So, the Islamist organizations are accepted, at least passively, by the American Moslem community as a whole. That is reason for deep pessimism, not optimism.

  • sally stone

    It will not be to long before blacks convert to Islam and Muslim by the millions and you will see a different side of the States we are already seeing a black Muslim pres do everything to destroy Christanity and promote Muslims

  • Clare

    A good explanation of Islam is found in the video "State Rep. Womick (R-TN) Calls for Discharge of All Muslims from the Military". Rep Womick describes Islam by using a metaphor. He likens Islam to a rope showing that Islam's values, politics, culture and laws are inseparable. With this fact in mind, how could the answers to these questions for such polls carry any credibility? Since Muslims (Submissionists) practice a way of life that impose profound limitations on their experience of American life, how can these answers have any real meaning? Muslims, whether lukewarm, hot, or cold, are completely incompatible with our Constitutional Representative Republic.
    P.S. In my opinion, the only Americans in the 'Muslim-American community' are exmuslims. Not the hyphenated kind. Some of these exmuslims are the most active and outspoken patriots of us all.

  • BLJ

    I keep things simple. I hate all Muslims. I don't care where they live or come from. Screw them all.

  • Ghostwriter

    It's sad that most Muslims think that Islam should be exempt from the First Amendment to the Constitution. It should not be. It's repeated exhortations to violence make it a prime target FOR criticism.

  • Kevin Stroup

    It is our 5th column that is the real threat. Islam is but a weapon that they use. Keep the focus on the 5th column.

  • Suzanne

    "There are 2.6 million Muslims in the United States, a number that is expected to grow to 6.2 by 2030". Are we out of our minds?!!!! STOP ALL MUSLIM IMMIGRATION NOW! It should have been stopped on 9/11/01!

  • Logan

    I agree, very well said…….Pay attention folks!

  • kaz

    only a fool would believe anything that the members of a small muslim minority say. for the truth, look at what they do when they are the majority. or you could ask a turkish armenian. note to liberals–there arent any turkish armenians–the peaceful muslim majority murdered them.

    • Beth

      I gave you a thumbs up kaz…but it didn't register. Most people don't know about that history – an important history for all non-muslims.

  • Beth

    Well said! ObamaYoMoma

    Those polls mean absolutely nothing and is a waste of time and energy. Muslims are taught by their koran to lie to infidels, especially when the lies benefit islam.

    004.094 – O ye who believe! When ye go abroad in the cause of Allah, investigate carefully, and say not to any one who offers you a salutation: "Thou art none of a believer!" Therefore carefully investigate. {they are to keep their intentions hidden)

    003.028 Let not the believers take disbelievers for their friends in preference to believers. Whoso doeth that hath no connection with Allah unless it be that ye but guard yourselves against them, taking as it were security. {telling lies to non-Muslims is a command in islam)

    Those polls mean absolutely nothing. If anything – they're most likely far from the truth.

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