American Muslims

Faith Digest: American Muslims more moderate

U.S. Muslims more moderate, poll shows. Muslims in America are much less inclined to support suicide bombing than Muslims abroad, according to a new report released by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. On suicide bombing, 81 percent of U.S. Muslims said it’s never justified, 7 percent said it’s justified to defend Islam, and 1 percent said it’s sometimes justified. Globally, most Muslims also reject suicide bombing, although significant minorities in several countries say such acts are at least sometimes justified, including 26 percent of Muslims in Bangladesh, 29 percent in Egypt, and 39 percent in Afghanistan. Of the countries surveyed, only a majority of Muslims in America—56 percent—believe people of other faiths can go to heaven; by contrast, that figure among U.S. Christians is about 64 percent. The percentage of Muslims who say they want Shariah, or Islamic law, to be “the official law of the land” varies widely around the world, from fewer than 8 percent in Azerbaijan to 99 percent in Afghanistan. Solid majorities in most predominantly Muslim countries surveyed, however, favor the establishment of Islamic law. The report did not ask the same question of American Muslims. The 157-page “The World’s Muslims” report is based on more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews conducted in more than 80 languages with self-identifying Muslims in 39 countries and territories. The report combines findings from a 2011-2012 survey of 24 countries in Africa, Asia and Europe and a 2008-2009 survey of 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Fifteen countries cited for religious freedom violations. For its annual report of violators, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom counts 15 nations where abuse of religious liberty is “systemic, egregious and ongoing.” But the commission, created by Congress in 1998 as an independent watchdog panel, also wants to highlight the crimes of non-nations, which for the first time this year get their own section in the report. Somalia, for example, which doesn’t make the list, is home to al-Shabaab, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization that has brutally suppressed Christians and Sufi Muslims who do not subscribe to its radical interpretation of Islam. On its 15-nation list of the worse offenders, the commission includes eight the U.S. State Department also considers “Countries of Particular Concern”—Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan. But as in years past, the commission wants the State Department to add seven more—Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam.

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