In lieu of the approaching 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on The World Trade Center and recent news of “credible” information regarding possible planned acts of terrorism, the Islamic community in America has, once again, come under increased focus.
Last week, the NYPD announced a new initiative to promote security through a wide surveillance of New York’s Muslims and community institutions, causing the ire of New York ’s Muslim leaders who questioned the constitutionality of such monitoring
The Police Commissioner and the Mayor insisted that no laws have been broken, and they have acted in concert with advice from lawyers, begging the question: Ten years after the 9/11 tragedy, how much has American public opinion of Islam really improved?
Although American public opinion about Islam and its association with terrorism has improved slightly in the years since the 9/11 attacks on The World Trade Center, overall, the public continues to express mixed views, according to a study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
Favorable opinions of Islam have declined since 2005, but there has been virtually no change over the past year in the proportion of Americans saying that Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence.
As was the case in 2009, slightly more people say the Islamic religion does not encourage violence more than other religions (42%) than say that it does (35%).
Additionally, there are substantial differences in opinions across party affiliations, educational attainment and age: For example, 54 percent of Republicans express an unfavorable opinion of Islam, compared to 21 percent favorable. Among Independents, 40 percent share an unfavorable opinion versus 28 percent favorable. And among Democrats, favorable opinions of Islam outnumber unfavorable ones, by 41 percent to 27 percent.
Also, studies show that while respondents under 50 years old, have mixed views of Islam, the balance of opinion is more negative among those older than 50 (44 percent unfavorable vs. 24 percent favorable.
Amongst college graduates, 47 percent expressed a favorable opinion, compared to 28 percent unfavorable, while those with less than a college degree express unfavorable views.