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Americans split on how to discuss, assess extremism

By Alex Simpson –

According to a recent Pew Research study, Americans were divided on their preference between a cautious approach to discussing religious extremism and a blunt, open and straight-to-the-point approach. The survey found that around 50 percent believe that their next president should be very careful when speaking about religious extremists identifying as Muslim, so as to not offend the entire faith community. The study also found that Americans tend to agree that religion isn’t responsible for violence, but rather, violent individuals instead hide behind religion and use it as an excuse and justification for their violent actions. Over the years, the number of anti-Islamic, racist incidents reported to the authorities has increased dramatically.

Survey results also showed that 40 percent believe that the next president should be blunt and honest about religious extremism, even if that means that he or she criticizes the religion of Islam as a whole. Among liberal Democrats, 80 percent say that the president should be careful so as to not offend Islam, whereas 65 percent of Republicans call for bluntness, even if it means Islam is criticized. Studies have found that adults under the age of 30, as well as African Americans, are far more likely to prefer their next president to exercise caution when discussing religious extremism.

The study also found that just over 42 percent of the respondents believe that very few Muslims in the U.S. possess anti-American views and beliefs. On the flip side, roughly the same percentage believe that “some” or “around half” of Muslims in the U.S. are anti-American. This study also indicated that roughly 1 in 10 Americans believe that virtually all Muslims in the U.S. are anti-American. Out of those 1 in 10 Americans, the majority of those with those beliefs were found to be Republicans. Also, 29 percent of all Republicans were found to believe that “very few” Muslims in the U.S. are anti-American, compared to Democrats, of which 54 percent were found to believe this to be true.

Discrimination against Muslims is also thought to be on the rise, with 59 percent of all respondents believing that there is a great deal of discrimination against Muslims in the U.S. Among those surveyed, 52 percent of Americans say that they know at least one Muslim personally, with younger people, those with college degrees, being more likely to say that they know at least one Muslim person personally.

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