What Muslims Really Think

Significant numbers are sympathetic to extremist views

And so to the degree that anyone would equate the terrible actions that took place in Paris with the views of Islam, those kinds of stereotypes are counterproductive. They’re wrong. — President Obama

Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. — Donald Trump

It’s an all too familiar pattern: Islamic terrorists, motivated by and acting in the name of Islam, brutally murder innocent civilians. Then, as if on politically correct cue, the weak-willed leaders of the West warn their citizens not to succumb to the Great Thought Crime of wondering if perhaps Islam has an inherent problem with terrorism and extremism.

Obviously, the vast majority of the world’s Muslims are not terrorists, but just because a Muslim man or woman isn’t willing to blow themselves up in the name of Allah, or fire an assault rifle indiscriminately into a crowd of tourists does not necessarily mean he or she is a firm believer in human rights, religious tolerance or women’s equality.

The truth is that while a majority of Muslims do not engage in extremist acts, a notable portion of the Muslim community in the United States and overseas holds extremist views and is sympathetic to such extremist acts.

A 2007 Pew poll of Muslims attitudes towards extremism revealed that 13 percent of Muslim Americans surveyed believed suicide bombings of civilians to be sometimes or rarely justified. Of more concern is that when the attitudes of Muslims aged 18-29 were isolated, this number increased to 26 percent. The same report showed that 15 percent of U.S. Muslims had favorable or somewhat favorable views towards al-Qaida, and a disconcerting 27 percent declined to give an opinion on the group. It can’t be that they hadn’t heard of it.

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In a 2011 Pew poll of Muslim Americans, 19 percent of those surveyed felt suicide bombing is sometimes justified, or declined to answer. The same poll revealed that nearly a quarter of respondents believed there was a great, or fair amount, of support for extremism in the Muslim American community.

The numbers in the rest of the world are worse.

In the 2009 Pew poll, 23 percent of respondents in the U.K. (35 percent of respondents aged 18-29) and an astonishing 46 percent of respondents in France agreed that suicide bombings of civilians are sometimes justified.

A ComRes poll conducted in the U.K. in February found that 45 percent of British Muslims surveyed believed clerics “preaching that violence against the west can be justified” are in touch with mainstream Muslim opinion.

In Turkey, 20 percent of respondents to a Metropoll survey conducted in January said the Charlie Hebdo staff in Paris “got what they deserved”

In 2008, a survey conducted by Austrian sociologist and moderate Islamic scholar and professor Mouhanad Khorchide, as part of his research for a dissertation on the views of Islamic teachers in Austrian public schools, found that 13.9 percent of those surveyed saw participation in elections as incompatible with Islam, while 28.4 percent saw a contradiction in being “Muslim” and “European” at the same time. A total of 18.2 percent said they believed the death penalty for apostasy to be justified, and 8.5 percent were sympathetic to force being used to spread Islam.

In Turkey, a Muslim nation that is part of NATO and seeking to join the European Union, 20 percent of respondents to a Metropoll survey conducted in January said the Charlie Hebdo staff in Paris “got what they deserved,” and that they would condone the “use of violence in the name of Islam in certain instances.”

The Gallup World Poll conducted between 2001-2007, which surveyed a sampling of Muslims representing over 90 percent of the world’s then-1.3 billion strong Muslim population, found that 14 percent of respondents — 182 million people — believed the 9/11 attacks were partially or completely justified.

While the polls clearly vary, almost all show anywhere from 10 to 35 percent of Muslims surveyed holding at least one extremist opinion, and 5 to 15 percent condoning, to a certain extent, terrorism.

There are now roughly 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. Assuming Gallup’s 2007 figure of 14 percent has remained relatively steady, there are approximately 224 million Muslims in the world who believe acts of terror in the name of Islam are justified.

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