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Some younger U.S. Muslims say suicide bombings could be justified

May 22, 2007, Los Angeles Times, Some younger U.S. Muslims say suicide bombings could be justified, By Rebecca Trounson.

One in four younger Muslims in the United States believes suicide bombings to defend Islam are justified in at least some circumstances, although nearly 80% of all Muslim Americans say such attacks are never acceptable, and most are critical of Al Qaeda, according to a nationwide poll released today.

The study, by the Pew Research Center, paints a picture of a richly diverse, complex and still largely immigrant community that for the most part has blended comfortably into American life.

Most Muslim Americans are moderate, mainstream and middle class, the study shows. They are largely assimilated, happy with their lives and have adopted such core American values as a belief that hard work will lead to success. And their income and educational levels are comparable with most Americans.

In a conference call today from Washington, D.C., Pew Research Center director Andrew Kohut said that the support for suicide bombings--although limited--was one of the few trouble spots the study found in an overwhelmingly positive portrait of the U.S. Muslim community.

Overall, 78% of Muslim Americans said suicide bombings of civilian targets to defend Islam cannot be justified; 13% say they can be, in some circumstances. The view is strongest among those younger than 30, but for all Muslim Americans, such support is far lower than among Muslims in many other nations, including in several Western European countries.

The poll also found that most Muslim Americans are Democrats or lean that way, but also tend to be social conservatives.

It also found that native-born African American Muslims, who make up about 20% of the Muslim community in this country, are the most disillusioned segment, tending to be more skeptical of the view that hard work pays off and less satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S.

The Pew poll estimates that there are roughly 2.35 million Muslim Americans. The U.S. Census Bureau does not ask questions about religious beliefs or preferences.

The study was based on telephone interviews with 1,050 adult Muslims, some of whom were interviewed in Arabic, Urdu or Farsi, in addition to English. The margin of error for the poll, which was conducted between January and April, is plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Los Angeles Times website

rebecca.trounson@latimes.com

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