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7 Myths About Muslim Americans

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A new study from the Pew Research Center shows more Americans (82%) believe Muslims encounter discrimination than any other minority group polled. The finding corresponds with data evidencing increased Islamophobia in schools, at work and in the public square. Significantly, myths and misconceptions often inform such bigotry and discrimination. Research shows that Americans often associate Muslims with violence and fanaticism. This perception problem is purposefully perpetuated by a cadre of anti-Muslim extremists engaged in a multi-million dollar industry fomenting fear, as documented by the Center for American Progress and the Council on American Islamic Relations. Depictions of Muslims, almost exclusively, as the violent terrorist other in some news media outlets and pop culture (think American Sniper) also reinforce such negative associations similar to vitriolic anti-Muslim political rhetoric during election cycles and foreign military interventions abroad. Indeed, as 2016 draws to a close, myths about Muslims persist, percolating in conspiratorial email chains, hyper-partisan news media discussions and perhaps most critically, among policymakers. Here, we identify and debunk seven (7) myths: • Muslims are coming to America to attack us in the name of Islam. In 2016, approximately 85,000 refugees entered the U.S. and forty-six percent (46%) - 38,901- were Muslim. The source of more than half of our Muslim refugees is Syria (12,486) and Somalia (9,012), with the remainder coming from Iraq (7,853), Burma (3,145), Afghanistan (2,664) and other countries (3,741). They make up a fraction of the 1 million immigrants granted so-called Green Cards each year. Approximately one-in-ten of those new legal immigrants are Muslim. In 2016, none of these Muslims committed an act of terrorism on U.S. soil. • Muslim terrorists are infiltrating our borders. Late last year, as unaccompanied minors flowed over the border from Central America, terror attacks in Paris, France and San Bernardino, California renewed anxieties that would-be terrorists could exploit border vulnerabilities to attack us.  While political rhetoric focuses on Syrian refugees, there is no concrete evidence that this has happened as part of a larger pattern, mass movement or infiltration by Muslims.  • Muslims are attempting to subvert the U.S. Constitution and impose Sharia law. According to research, most Muslim Americans view Sharia as “a private system of morality and identity, primarily focused on marriage and divorce rituals.” They generally do not expect U.S. courts to implement Sharia in legal proceedings. Public suspicions surrounding Sharia reveal misunderstanding and perhaps mistrust about religious beliefs and practices. Significantly, research from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) shows that Muslim faith observances are comparable to their Christian counterparts. For example, forty-two percent (42%) of Muslim Americans and forty-five percent (45%) of Protestants attend religious services on a weekly basis. Further, Muslims (89%) are just as likely as Jews (84%), Catholics and Protestants (95%) to identify strongly with their faith. • Muslims are responsible for most acts of terrorism in the U.S. According to FBI statistics, from 1980 to 2005, Muslims were responsible for only 6% of attacks in the U.S. More recently, a study from Duke shows that approximately 344 Muslim Americans have been involved in violent extremism since 9/11. For the sake of perspective, there are approximately 3 to 7 million Muslims in the U.S. In other words, 99% of Muslims Americans have had no involvement with such heinous activities in the past fifteen (15) years. In fact, in a survey by the University of Maryland, state and local law enforcement officers rated domestic militia groups as posing the greatest threat to domestic security. Similarly, Duke found that law enforcement agencies considered anti-government violent extremists as the most severe threat of political violence; environmental extremism was described as a priority by a third of the agencies. Officials indicated the same threat assessment even after ISIS recently increased their recruitment efforts. Right wing extremist groups are their top-rated threat. • Muslims have killed more Americans domestically than any other group. A 2015 study by New America shows that white supremacists and anti-government extremists – depicted as an “ignored threat” – have murdered more Americans since 9/11 than those professing to be Muslim. More recent research from Duke shows that while self-identifying Muslims are responsible for 69 fatalities since 9/11, more than 220,000 Americans were murdered over the same period and mass shootings took the lives of 134 Americans in 2015 alone. • Muslims aren’t doing enough to counter violent extremism. According to Pew, Muslims generally believe that suicide bombings and other criminal violence against civilians are rarely or never justified.  Similarly, Gallup found that Muslim Americans are more likely than any other religious community to reject violence against civilians. Research funded by the U.S. Department of Justice found that such viewpoints manifest in concrete actions: Muslim Americans are actively engaged in anti-radicalization efforts within their religious communities and mosques. These include public and private condemnations of extremist violence; self-policing; community-building and political engagement. In fact, Muslim Americans represent one of the largest sources of tips to law enforcement agencies about potential terrorist plots. • Muslims hate America. About one half of Americans (49%) believe “some” Muslim Americans are anti-American, according to a Pew survey. But, research from Gallup indicates that Muslim Americans are just as likely to identify with their faith as they do with the U.S. And, an ISPU study shows Muslims with a stronger faith identity are more likely to emphasize their American identity as well. To learn more about American Muslim contributions, including in the U.S. military and at law enforcement agencies, check out this public letter from nearly 500 local, state and national leaders addressed to President-elect Trump and the incoming administration. In the New Year, challenge what you think you know about Americans who are Muslims by befriending one.

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1 Sarah Mangum = "Pew Research Center"
2 Sarah Mangum = "schools"
3 Sarah Mangum = "work"
4 Sarah Mangum = "public square"
5 Sarah Mangum = "research"
6 Enakshi Ganguly = "Study Says White Extremists Have Killed More Americans in the U.S. Than Jihadists Since 9/11"
7 Sarah Mangum = "Center for American Progress"
8 Sarah Mangum = "Council on American Islamic Relations"
9 Enakshi Ganguly = "Who Joins ISIS and Why?"
10 Sarah Mangum = "U.S. admits record number of Muslim refugees in 2016"
11 Enakshi Ganguly = "But who created these borders? who deprived who of resources, capital and security? who invaded & exploited another state's resources, manipulated its leaders and appointed those who were willing to co-conspire with them? Is it not natural for the people who were looted by the Global North to seek refuge from the Global North? The region that took everything from the world! The world is now seeking its resources back. As Warsan Shire said:"no one leaves home unlesshome is the mouth of a sharkyou only run for the borderwhen you see the whole city running as well4your neighbors running faster than youbreath bloody in their throatsthe boy you went to school withwho kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factoryis holding a gun bigger than his bodyyou only leave homewhen home won’t let you stay.2no one leaves home unless home chases youfire under feethot blood in your bellyit’s not something you ever thought of doinguntil the blade burnt threats intoyour neckand even then you carried the anthem underyour breathonly tearing up your passport in an airport toiletssobbing as each mouthful of papermade it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.you have to understand,that no one puts their children in a boatunless the water is safer than the land4no one burns their palmsunder trainsbeneath carriagesno one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truckfeeding on newspaper unless the miles travelledmeans something more than journey.no one crawls under fencesno one wants to be beatenpitiedno one chooses refugee campsor strip searches where yourbody is left achingor prison,because prison is saferthan a city of fireand one prison guardin the nightis better than a truckloadof men who look like your fatherno one could take itno one could stomach itno one skin would be tough enoughthego home blacksrefugeesdirty immigrantsasylum seekerssucking our country dryniggers with their hands outthey smell strangesavagemessed up their country and now they wantto mess ours uphow do the wordsthe dirty looksroll off your backsmaybe because the blow is softerthan a limb torn offor the words are more tenderthan fourteen men betweenyour legsor the insults are easierto swallowthan rubblethan bonethan your child bodyin pieces.i want to go home,but home is the mouth of a sharkhome is the barrel of the gunand no one would leave home2unless home chased you to the shoreunless home told youto quicken your legsleave your clothes behindcrawl through the desertwade through the oceansdrownsavebe hungerbegforget prideyour survival is more importantno one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your earsaying-leave,run away from me nowi dont know what i’ve becomebut i know that anywhereis safer than here"SOURCE: http://seekershub.org/blog/2015/09/home-warsan-shire/ "
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