Two Stories Found in One Poll on Muslim Americans

But poll finds that the majority of Muslims are happy with lives in the U.S.

ByABC News via GMA logo
January 8, 2009, 12:14 AM

May 23, 2007 — -- There were dueling headlines Tuesday after a Pew Research Center released a poll about Muslim Americans.

Seventy-eight percent of Muslims said they were happy with their lives in the United States.

But perhaps more troubling, one in four Muslims under 30 said suicide bombings might -- in some cases -- be justified to defend Islam.

Conservative commentator Glenn Beck said the new poll suggests Muslims believe that Islam is under attack and that the United States must focus on homegrown terrorism.

"We've got to see that the seeds of destruction are being planted, Beck said. "We have to address that. We've got to get out of denial."

But James Zogby, president of Zogby International Polling, said the poll shows the opposite -- an extremely satisfied American Muslim community.

"Most of them find America a great place to live. Most of them are absorbed into the culture," Zogby said.

The Pew poll question is completely hypothetical: "Is suicide bombing often, sometimes, rarely or never justified to defend Islam from its enemies?"

And hypothetical questions can yield unexpected answers.

In 1995, for example, after the Oklahoma City bombing, a poll asked another hypothetical question:"Is it ever justified for citizens to take violent action against the United States government?" Nine percent of Americans said yes.

Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the lone Muslim member of Congress, believes the new poll was striking in that American Muslims are generally much more content than their European counterparts.

"I think there are some things we have learned through hard-earned experience about tolerance and inclusion that the rest of the world should take notice of," Ellison said.

But he added that the results on the question of suicide bombing should be a message to Muslim leaders here.

"It's not an alarm. Nothing to be alarmed about," Ellison said, "although it is also important for mosques around the country to engage young people to make sure they have the proper understanding that Islam is about moderation and balance."