Washington, DC - American Muslims' political views have dramatically shifted since 9/11, according to new Georgetown University research released today. Georgetown's Muslims in the American Public Square (Project MAPS) and Zogby International today announced the results of their joint 2004 American Muslim Poll, "Muslims in the American Public Square: Shifting Political Winds and Fallout from 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq."
"The results of this survey are truly astonishing -- for American Muslims, there has been a sea-change in political alignment and outlook since 9/11," said Dr. Zahid Bukhari, director of Project MAPS. "The political realignment in the Muslim community is unprecedented in all of American history."
The 2004 Project MAPS survey found that Muslims had shifted massively from 2000, when a plurality supported President George W. Bush over Vice President Al Gore, to today, when 76% support Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and just 7% support President Bush. This political realignment seems to come from several factors, including a higher emphasis by American Muslims on domestic policy than on foreign policy; high opposition to both the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan; and a higher percentage of Muslims than other subgroups saying America is not moving in the right direction.
The poll found 53% of American Muslim voters say they believe Muslims should vote as a bloc for a presidential candidate. Four in five (81%) respondents to the poll also indicated they supported the agenda of the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT), a U.S.-wide coalition of the ten largest Muslim organizations, during the presidential election. Over two in three (69%) of those surveyed said an AMT endorsement would be important in making their decision for whom to cast their ballot.
"The results of our poll are some of the most striking this election season," said John Zogby, president and CEO of Zogby International. "The shift by American Muslims away from the President -- and the Republicans -- is dramatic, and the truest example of a backlash we've seen. This is virtually unprecedented."
The survey offers several reasons for this shift in attitudes, related to issues that have been thrown into sharp contrast since 9/11. Among these is the fact that for American Muslims, the post-9/11 period has been one where they have perceived increased hostility: While a majority (59%) of Muslims have not directly experienced anti-Muslim discrimination since the 9/11 attacks, most (57%) know someone who has; they also note that most of the incidents have occurred in a work or school setting, or in their own neighborhoods. A quarter (26%) of Muslim Americans says they have been victims of racial profiling since the attacks.
American Muslims also had very strong opinions of the war on terror, and its components in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Support for both wars is weak in the Muslim community with 35% supporting the Afghanistan war and only 13% supporting the Iraq war. Three quarters (76%) of American Muslims surveyed will choose change in America's Middle East policy as the way to wage the war against terrorism. This is not merely a matter of disagreement over policy: A plurality of American Muslims says the U.S. is fighting a war on Islam (38%) rather than terror (33%).
Several pre-9/11 issues still resonate in the American Muslim community. Eight of every nine American Muslims (87%) surveyed support a U.S. policy backing a Palestinian state, while a reduction in U.S. support for Israel is supported by 80% of respondents. Muslims also overwhelmingly support the notion that the U.S. must deal with social, economic and political inequalities around the world to defeat terrorism (87%). Opposition to Israel does not translate into support for undemocratic Muslim regimes, however: Two-thirds (66%) of American Muslims surveyed say the U.S. should reduce its support of undemocratic regimes in the Muslim world. Two-thirds of American Muslims surveyed also agree that the Kashmir issue is the central issue between India and Pakistan.
The survey also found American Muslims overwhelmingly wished to be involved politically and to see their children involved in politics. Despite their disillusionment with the current political system in the U.S., the survey found a great deal of optimism among the American Muslims: 51% say this is a good time to be a Muslim in America. The survey also found a willingness to become a part of the American mainstream. American Muslims say with near-universality that Muslims should donate to non-Muslim service programs like aid for the homeless (97%). Almost the same percentage (95%) agrees that American Muslims should participate in the political process. Nine of every ten (90%) American Muslims surveyed say Muslims should participate in interfaith activities. Eight of every nine (87%) respondents agree Muslims should support worthy non-Muslim political candidates.
"With Muslims as one of the fastest-growing segments of the population, politicians ignore them at their own peril," said Dr. Bukhari. "This a small group that has a strong desire to be involved, and, our survey shows, has strong opinions about the direction of the nation and what it means to be an American and a Muslim in America."
Survey Details: Zogby International conducted a survey of 1,846 Muslims chosen randomly nationwide, including an over sample of 146 face-to-face interviews of African-American Muslims conducted in select Mosques. All calls were made from Zogby International headquarters in Utica, N.Y., from August 5 through September 15, 2004. The margin of error is +/- 2.3 percentage points. Slight weights were added to country of origin to more accurately reflect the Muslim population. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups. Numbers have been rounded to the nearest percent and may not total 100.
About Project MAPS
Project MAPS is a research project at the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (CMCU) in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and has been supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts since 1999. Project MAPS sponsored the two nationwide American Muslim Polls conducted in 2001 and 2004 to examine the demographics, religious practices, opinion and behavior on socio-political issues, and the effect and aftermath of September 11 on the American Muslim community. For more information about Project MAPS, visit www.projectmaps.com.
About Georgetown University
Georgetown University is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit university in America, founded in 1789 by Archbishop John Carroll. Georgetown today is a major student-centered, international, research university offering respected undergraduate, graduate and professional programs on its three campuses. For more information about Georgetown University, visit www.georgetown.edu.