CAIRO – As anti-Muslim rhetoric increases, a new poll has found that American Muslims enjoy strong patriotism, seeing their faith as important to their identity for encouraging civic engagement in their community.
“Islam doesn’t weaken Muslim patriotism, it actually strengthens it,” Dalia Mogahed, research director of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a non-profit focused on studying this section of the American population, told The Atlantic.
“Muslims with a stronger religious identity actually have a stronger American identity than those with a weak religious identity,” she added.
The ISPU’s research, conducted last January, compared Muslims to American Jews, Protestants, and Catholics with respect to their levels of religiosity, patriotism, activism, and general outlook on the state of the country and on their lives.
It came two weeks before President Barack Obama made his first visit to an American mosque in Baltimore.
“In this election cycle, specifically, Muslims have been a topic of debate but seldom participants in that discussion,” said Mogahed.
The poll found that among those respondents who said their faith is important to their identity, 91 percent affirmed that “being American is important to how they think of themselves,” compared to just 68 percent of those with weaker religious ties.
“We found that there was no correlation between mosque attendance and support of violence,” Mogahed said.
The mosque also proved to be the ideal place where community engages with other people.
Those who attend prayer services more frequently were more likely not to condone violence, with 65 percent saying “it is never justified,” compared to 45 percent of similarly devout Jews, 43 percent of Catholics, and 40 percent of Protestants.
“The research shows that mosques are actually a force for moderation. Muslims frequent a religious service as much as Protestants, and those who do go more frequently are not in any way more likely to condone violence,” Mogahed said.
Correcting many misconceptions, the poll found that Muslims were more likely than members of other faith communities to reject attacks on civilians by the military.
They are “at least as likely as other faith communities to reject violence unequivocally,” Mogahed said.
“Muslims with a stronger religious identity actually have a stronger American identity.”
Mogahed recently gave a TED talk on the subject of Muslims in the United States. She warned against the high level of discrimination faced by respondents.
About 18 percent reported regular discrimination, compared to 5 percent of Jews in the same period.
“This poll found that the majority of Muslims report experiencing some level of discrimination in the last year,” she said.
Earlier in February, a Super Tuesday poll by CAIR revealed Islamophobia is the No. 1 concern for Muslim voters.