by Jawad Kaleem (HuffPo)
After the Boston Marathon bombing suspects were revealed to be Muslims who investigators said were motivated in part by radical Islam, American Muslims were quick to condemn the bombings and plea for Americans to not retaliate against the peaceful majority.
Now, the results of a new survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press show that despite heightened interest around radical Islam’s connection to the Boston attacks, Americans’ view of whether Islam is more likely than other religions to support violence remains close to what it has been for the past decade. The survey also found that Americans view Muslims as the group that’s most discriminated against when compared to gays and lesbians, African Americans, Hispanics and women.
The survey, which was released Tuesday, found that 42 percent of Americans believe Islam is “more likely” than other religions to encourage violence among believers, while 46 percent say it’s not any more likely to promote violence than other faiths. Those figures are within 7 percentage points of the results of surveys going back to 2003 that have asked the same question. Only in 2002 did Pew find widely different results to the question about Islam and violence, when 25 percent of those surveyed said Islam was more likely to encourage violence while 51 percent disagreed.
Tuesday’s results found that about 45 percent of Americans say there is “a lot” of discrimination against Muslims, while 39 percent say there is the same amount of discrimination against gays and lesbians. A quarter of Americans believe there is “a lot” of discrimination against Hispanics, 22 percent believe there is a similar level of discrimination against African Americans and 15 percent believe there is “a lot” of discrimination against women.
Pew, which polled 1,504 people for the survey with a margin of error of 2.9 percent, also found differences between views of Islam when results were broken down by age, sex, political party and religion. The majority of young people don’t believe Islam is more linked to violence than other religions, while half of people above 50 believe Islam is more likely to promote violence. Men were also more likely than women to say Islam is related to violence. Republicans were also more likely to believe in a link between Islam and violence than Democrats, as were white evangelical Protestants when compared to mainline Protestants.