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THE U.S.A. SECTION: US Muslims more assimilated than British

By Ewen MacAskill in Washington

Muslims in the United States are much more assimilated into society than Muslims in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, according to a poll published yesterday.

The detailed survey, conducted by the Washington-based Pew Research Centre, found that American Muslims tended to have a better standard of living than their counterparts in Europe and were more comfortable with a society in which a majority believed in God compared with secular Europe.

Farid Senzai, an adviser on the survey and director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, said: "The news overall is overwhelmingly positive. The Muslim community here is less ghettoised than in Europe."

Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Centre, told a press conference that the estimated 2.4 million Muslims living in the US were "decidedly American in outlook", believing that hard work could lead to advancement.

But the survey, called Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream, did disclose pockets within the community who are disaffected and sympathetic to violence and extremism.

The poll found that 8% of American Muslims regard suicide bombings against civilian targets as justified. Twice as many Muslims in Britain, Spain and France see such tactics as justified. But the poll showed that among American Muslims under 30, sympathy for suicide bombings jumped to 30%. In Britain it jumped to 35%, Spain 29% and France 42%.

Mr Kohut described it as "one of the few troublespots" in the survey. Support for violence was high too among African-American Muslims, who also tend to be among the most disaffected with their economic and social position.

US intelligence since 9/11, and the war in Iraq, has focused on the radicalisation of parts of the Muslim community. Only 40% of respondents to the Pew poll, which interviewed 1,050 Muslims between January and April, said they believed a group of Arabs carried out the 9/11 attacks.

Source: Guardian Unlimited, May 23, 2007


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