By Joe Jenkins
In 2011 the polling organization Gallup undertook significant data collection and analysis on public opinions on Muslims and Islam in the West in an effort to help policymakers address Islamophobia. Though more current polling exists, much of what Gallup found still rings true, and its findings provide a good framework for understanding public views on Muslims and Islam.
Among their key findings in Islamophobia: Understanding Anti-Muslim Sentiment in the West is that the prevalence of Muslim terrorism is far lower than the perceived threat, and Muslim American communities are the single largest source of initial information helping authorities prevent plots. Yet more than half of Muslims in the West believe that they are not treated as equal citizens. And in America, Muslims are the religious group most likely to experience religious discrimination.
The data suggests that Americans who know Muslims personally have slightly less prejudice toward Muslims (53 percent of those who know a Muslim person say they hold no prejudice toward Islam, compared to 44 percent among those who do not personally know a Muslim person). Troublingly, however, regardless of personal prejudice, at least one-fifth of Americans perceive Muslims as less accepting of other religions and races. Such prejudices exist among all kinds of people, though men are slightly more likely than women to harbor prejudices, and prejudice decreases with education level.
Explore the rest of Gallup’s data on public views in the United States and Europe here.