Poll: Public split on Islam encouraging violence among followers
March 9th, 2011
03:20 PM ET
7 years ago

Poll: Public split on Islam encouraging violence among followers

Washington (CNN) - Americans are divided over whether Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers, according to a new national poll. A Pew Research Center survey also indicates wide partisan and generational divides on the issue.

The poll indicates that 40 percent of the public says that Islam is more likely than other faiths to encourage violence among its followers, with 42 percent disagreeing and nearly one in four unsure. Those numbers are little changed over the past few years, but a Pew poll conducted in March 2002, six months after the September 11th terrorist attacks, indicated that by a two to one margin, Americans said Islam was not more likely to encourage violence.

The poll's Wednesday release comes one day before a scheduled congressional hearing into the alleged radicalization of some Muslims in the U.S. The chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Republican Rep. Peter King of New York, says Thursday's hearing is necessary to explore, among other things, the extent to which al Qaeda is trying to influence and indoctrinate U.S. Muslims.

King's plans have created an uproar, with critics accusing Republican leaders of bigotry and drawing analogies to Sen. Joseph McCarthy's hearings into alleged Communist infiltration in the early years of the Cold War. Leading American Muslims on Wednesday strongly criticized the hearings into the alleged radicalization of members of their community, calling it an unfair attack on loyal citizens and a dangerous break from the traditional U.S. embrace of tolerance and pluralism.

According to the poll, conservative Republicans questioned in the poll by a 66 to 21 percent margin say Islam encourages violence more than other religions. It's almost a mirror image for self described liberal Democrats, who by a 61 to 29 percent margin say Islam is not more likely than other religions to promote violence. By a 44 to 38 percent margin, independent voters say that Islam does not encourage violence more than other religions.

The survey indicates that by a nearly two to one margin younger respondents say Islam does not encourage violence more than other faiths, with those 65 and older disagreeing by 42 to 35 percent margin.

The Pew Research Center poll was conducted Feb. 22-March 1, with 1,504 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Filed under: Polls
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. betterdays

    So everything is going according to plan, pretty much.

    March 9, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  2. T'sah from Virginia

    There are BILLIONS of Muslims in the world and they practice ISLAM!!! Does that make EVERY person who practices ISLAM a Terrorist??????????? Please STOP making it seems as if it's the RELIGION that's causing the VIOLENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's NOT and that is where the CONFUSION comes in that makes these STUPID POLLS go in one direction!!!!

    On another note – How much crime is there in America???? Who commits the crimes?????? Are you going to BLAME EVERY religion for the CRIME??????? Come on Now!!! – Enough is Enough!!!! Jeez!!

    March 9, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    What a waste of taxpayer dollars. These hearings do nothing to create jobs, decrease the deficit or address national security. Many Muslims have spoken out against violence and terrorism, so there is absolutely no point to this bigotry. Maybe I'll take King seriously when he starts to go after the Christian Taliban that's been committing violence all around the US the last few years.

    March 9, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  4. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Look at our prisons that hold those who have perpertrated violence, we don't need a poll for violence. If it is the Muslim community who are more violent, then release the prisoners. Has this country gone totally mad.

    March 9, 2011 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Polls are nice.....and utterly unreliable, they change in scope and result depending on the pollers and those being polled.

    If you polled folks in the Birther Movement, for instance, you'd walk away thinking that 70% of Americans think they breathe through their anus, 20% think they breath through their nose, and another 65% are unable to distinguish between the two.

    March 9, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  6. Oy Vey Az

    If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck ... Or ... Birds of a feather flock ... Or ... the nuts don't fall far from the tree.

    The Muslin world had to keep its eye on Christendom during the Crusades, and we should be no less determined to keep our eyes wide open and focused today on enemies within the US.

    March 9, 2011 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  7. Hangar 13

    Islam doesn't encourage violence any more than any other religion, just look at the facts. Remember the Baptists who strapped bombs to children and sent them into a crowded market, the Quakers who went on a shooting spree at an Army post, the Catholics who plotted to kill soldiers at Fort Dix, the Jews who hijacked a cruise ship and murdered a passenger, the Buddhists who plotted to blow up the World Trade Center, the Hindus who murdered members of the Israeli Olympic team, and the Lutherans who flew planes into the World Trade Center. I could go on and on... What? None of those things happened? Gee... who DID do all of those things? They must have a wildly successful PR arm if the majority of liberals have no clue who is responsible for all of the terrorism in the world. Come to think of it, fooling liberals is pretty easy, like catching fish that can't wait to jump in the boat.

    March 9, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  8. A Real American

    The guy who owns the convenience mart on the corner is a Muslim. He sells me cigarettes. Cigarettes cause cancer. He must be trying to kill me. I thought he looked shady.

    March 9, 2011 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  9. DemoCommunists for a Better Way - Bankruptcy

    The poll indicates that 40 percent of the public says that Islam is more likely than other faiths to encourage violence among its followers, with 42 percent disagreeing and nearly one in four unsure.
    OK, what the heck does this mean? 40 + 42 + 25 = 107%!!! Try 18% unsure! Since when is 18% nearly 25% WHO WRITES THIS STUFF???

    But it does make one wonder about 60% of our population. How the heck can THAT MANY people be so clueless??? How many attacks by muslim terrorists around the world will it take for these people to wake up and smell the coffee? I'm sure at least half are clueless liberals with their heads in the sand and the other half don't even know what is going on in the world.

    March 9, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  10. Mikey

    Peter "McCarthy" King. Oh ya, I forgot that the right is once again revising history to try to make McCarthy a hero. We are getting just a taste of what strong right-wing rule would look like. I hope the taste is bitter enought to shock us out of our collective complaciency. You didn't appreciate "Obama-care"??? It's going to look like the good old days if these clowns continue their attempts to further enrich the very rich, cede power to the corporations, undermine our educational system, destroy the middle classs, and attack the poor, children, and everyone who doesn't look, think, or worship like them.

    March 9, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  11. NVa Native

    We have the Westboro Baptists, Operation Rescue, and tea-baggers preaching hate and bigotry – and they have the Tahliban.

    March 9, 2011 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  12. Inmyopinion

    I don't think Americans who have not lived outside the United States understand the key theory to the extend, symbolism, power, loyalty of this religion to these people's being, cause for living. In other words, they are the religion, the religion matters not the person. In other countries through the years they have been known to be violent for the cause of their religion. American people are just now finding out about it.

    Americans are comparing it to Southern Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic, Methodist religions which are about the person not the religion and violence is not practiced by Southern Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics, Methodists.

    March 9, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  13. Minnesotan With A Brain

    The threat of violence to any who dare disagree with Islam is well documented...just draw a silly cartoon of Mohammed and watch the reaction.

    This country was founded on the belief of tolerance and freedom of speech. There is no room in the United States for those who disagree with the right of free expression, no matter what religion they claim. The leaders of Germany, France and England have also come to this same conclusion based on their recent speeches regarding the failure of multiculturalism. If the followers of Islam who live in Western countries want to stay, then they have a decision to make regarding their regarding their views toward tolerance of the opinions of their fellow citizens.

    March 9, 2011 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Just more fear, hate, lies and ignorance from the Greedy Old Pigs, the party of no ideas.

    March 9, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  15. Bill from Olympia

    More likely to promote violence, or more likely to promote violence against Americans? That should have been the question here. Muslims are not more likely to promote violence than Christians. There are many cases of Christian groups promoting violence around the world. Africa Tribes, Baulkens, Ireland to name a few off the top of my head. There aren't however any/many Christian groups using religion to incite violence against the United States. It's purely speculation, but I suspect when they answered this question they were thinking of Violence against Americans or Christians rather than simply promoting violence. That or those in the 41% who say it is more likely are unaware of any military action prior to Iraq.

    March 9, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  16. gt

    just wondering,,,,, what religious group does all the bombing....

    March 9, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  17. diridi

    do not import too many people....simple...o..k...more populous, less prosperous...simple truth...

    March 9, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  18. Bill from Olympia


    Which religious group gassed an the Jews?

    March 9, 2011 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  19. Luke Brown

    I think there should be Congressional hearings on "The Radicalization of Wackos, Idiots, and Boneheads." Rep. King could be a spokesman for all three groups.

    March 9, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  20. A Real American

    just wondering,,,,, what religious group does all the bombing....

    If you ask the people in Pakistan, they'd say it was some religious group called the drones.

    March 9, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  21. JonathanL

    40 percent of American Adults think the sun goes around the earth. Opinion reflects opinion, and not always fact. Just reading about all the violence inflicted day to day throughout the World, whether it is bombs being set off by Muslims in Thailand, In Pakistan, in Afghanistan, places in Europe or in Russia, and much of the violence against Americans by foreigners, it is 99% by Muslims. The TV exec who started a Muslim TV station to eradicate Muslim stereotypes was just convicted of beheading his wife. Does this not fortify the stereotype? The Quran says you can beat and even kill your wife if she speaks to you (her husband) in a high handed way. He is probably feeling confused. The Quran and Hadith encourage violence against women and infidels for various reasons. To be fair, at the same time, the Old Testament Bible also seems to accept and or encourage violence beyond any reason using today's standards, and even Christians (and the new testament does not encourage violence) were very violent throughout the centuries, but Christian violence seems to have subsided at least since the 18th century. But back to Muslims. Muslim law says if 9 year old girl steals 3 times, her hand and foot need to be cut off. A 4th time, her head. This is not violence to a Muslim, it is justice. We'd consider anyone a pedophile if, like Muhammed, he married a 6 year old girl and had sex with her when she was 9. According to Islamic law a female becomes an adult woman at 9. These are huge gaps in our thinking. Bin Laden payed for a fatwa that says it is ok with Allah to kill up to 10 million Americans before Allah will get mad. I think murdering 10 million of us would be criminal, and as violent as murderous as Hitler, perhaps worse. But I doubt Muslims would not condemn it. They have never spoken out against killing Americans, their sworn enemies. They would consider it part of Jihad, promoting their religion of peace which perahps is peacful only to them. They think so differently it is hard to bridge the gap or understand how they can't see things the way we do. "Radical" to them is probably acceptable and admirable.

    March 9, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  22. ConservaFascists/F.U.B.A.R.

    I guess Timothy is a muslim as well.

    March 9, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  23. ja

    i see violence and intolerance in parts of all faiths(religions), are we blind to that fact, every faction pray their god that they blow the smithrens out of the opposition, maybe not a century ago americans lynched people in the name of their god

    March 9, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  24. Rick McDaniel

    The age factor shows that world experience, is a better indicator, of how accurately people evaluate situations. Youth is always naive and idealistic.

    The political factor is not accurate for either party, as both are skewed, by the political extremism in our country today.

    March 9, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  25. Inmyopinion

    Islam is the largest religion in Africa, has been for many centuries.

    March 9, 2011 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
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