Study: Muslims hate terrorism, too [PDF download]

July 1, 2014

In a new study released Tuesday, the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that “concern about Islamic extremism is high among countries with substantial Muslim populations.” This comes at a particularly fraught moment in the Middle East: the jihadist militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has seized whole swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria and proclaimed a new caliphate.

The study involved over 14,000 respondents in 14 countries and was conducted between April and May — before ISIS’s dramatic advance through Iraq this past month. But it underscores the growing fear and anger felt by many in Muslim-majority countries when facing a range of militant threats, from that of Boko Haram in Nigeria to ISIS to the Taliban insurgency in Pakistan.

DOWNLOAD FULL REPORT [PDF]: Pew: Concerns about Islamic Extremism on the Rise in Middle East

How religious harassment varies by region across the globe

In nearly three out of every four countries of the world, religious groups experience harassment by individuals or groups in society. The harassment and intimidation take many forms, including physical or verbal assaults; desecration of holy sites; and discrimination against religious groups in employment, education and housing. Every year, we track such harassment through a variety of sources, including the U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report and U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief reports. (For more information on our sources and procedures, see our latest report on religious restrictions and hostilities.) Here’s a region-by-region look at where it takes place, and to which groups:

Americas: Harassment of Jews found in nearly a third of countries In the Americas, Jews faced harassment or intimidation in 29% of countries (10 of 35) – more than any other group in the region. In August 2012, for example, a neo-Nazi group in Chile attacked a 14-year-old boy, drawing a swastika on his stomach with a syringe. Christians and Muslims each experienced harassment in about one-in-ten countries in the region (11%, or four countries each). In Mexico, for instance,a group of Catholics burned and destroyed more than a dozen homes belonging to indigenous evangelical Protestant families in retaliation for the families’ refusal to convert to Catholicism. And in Canada in 2012, “hooligans” vandalized a mosque in Quebec with anti-Islamic graffiti and damaged the mosque’s windows and vehicles.

Europe: Jews, Muslims faced intimidation in seven-in-ten countries In Europe, Jews were harassed in 69% of countries in the region (31 of 45). Muslims experienced harassment in 71% of countries (32 of 45) – a rate nearly as high as in the Middle East and North Africa (75%). In Greece, for instance, vandals defaced Jewish cemeteries and arsonists attacked informal mosques as well as Jehovah’s Witness congregations. In France, a group of at least 10 people attacked three Jewish youth with hammers while they were walking to Shabbat services.

 

Religious Groups’ Views on End-of-Life Issues

November 21, 2013

 

In the following summaries, religious leaders, scholars and ethicists from 16 major American religious groups explain how their faith traditions’ teachings address physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia and other end-of-life questions. (For an in-depth look at public opinion on end-of-life issues, see “Views on End-of-Life Medical Treatments.” And for an overview of the political, legal and ethical dimensions of the end-of-life debate, see “To End Our Days.”)

Assemblies of God

The Assemblies of God, the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States, opposes physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. The denomination teaches that life is a sacred gift and that only God should determine when life ends. “We simply feel that it is not our prerogative to end life,” says Edgar R. Lee, chairman of the church’s Commission on Doctrinal Purity. “God is the giver of life, not us.”

At the same time, the church allows that life need not be sustained at all costs when there is no hope for recovery. “We leave room for people to [reject] artificial means of life support,” Lee says. Indeed, he adds, the church “does not frown on” the use of pain medication to alleviate suffering, “even in cases where it might contribute to hastening death.”

Islam

Islamic teachings oppose physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. “Muslims believe that life is sacred and comes from God; therefore it is a sin to take life,” says David Stephen Powers, a professor of Near Eastern studies at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Islam also teaches that God alone decides how long someone will live and when they will die, according to Ayman Shabana, a visiting fellow at the Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Mass. “There is this reluctance … to make any kind of decisions that would end life prematurely because it is believed that [these decisions] are solely in the hands of God,” Shabana says.

Islam’s views on such issues as assisted suicide and euthanasia also are influenced by the belief that suffering and other difficulties might be beneficial, Shabana says. “There is this notion that you don’t always know what’s good for you,” he says, “so it may be right that you should go through some kind of difficulty that tests your faith.” Indeed, Shabana says, “in the Islamic tradition, end-of-life suffering is seen as a way to purify previous sins so that by the time you meet God, you do so in a [more pure] state.”

While Islamic thinkers oppose hastening death, they also generally believe that the terminally ill need not employ extraordinary means and technologies to delay dying. “We are basically talking about the difference between a conscious decision to end life, which is wrong, and life ending by itself,” Shabana says, adding that the line between the two is not always clearly defined.

For more information:

Aramesh, K., and Shadi, H. 2007. “Euthanasia: An Islamic Ethical Perspective.” Iranian Journal of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, volume 6, supplement 5, pages 35-38.

 

PEW.com: http://www.pewforum.org/2013/11/21/religious-groups-views-on-end-of-life-issues/

PEW: Lobbying for the Faithful

Religious Advocacy Groups in Washington, D.C.

The number of organizations engaged in religious lobbying or religion-related advocacy in Washington, D.C., has increased roughly fivefold in the past four decades, from fewer than 40 in 1970 to more than 200 today. These groups collectively employ at least 1,000 people in the greater Washington area and spend at least $390 million a year on efforts to influence national public policy. As a whole, religious advocacy organizations work on about 300 policy issues. For most of the past century, religious advocacy groups in Washington focused mainly on domestic affairs. Today, however, roughly as many groups work only on international issues as work only on domestic issues, and nearly two-thirds of the groups work on both. These are among the key findings of a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life that examines a total of 212 religion-related advocacy groups operating in the nation’s capital.

The study finds that about one-in-five religious advocacy organizations in Washington have a Roman Catholic perspective (19%) and a similar proportion are evangelical Protestant in outlook (18%), while 12% are Jewish and 8% are mainline Protestant. But many smaller U.S. religious groups, including Baha’is, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, also have established advocacy organizations in the Washington area. In fact, the number of Muslim groups (17) is about the same as the number of mainline Protestant groups (16). And the largest category today is interreligious: One-quarter of the groups studied (54) either represent multiple faiths or advocate on religious issues without representing a specific religion.

This report is based on a systematic examination of the websites, mission statements, tax documents and other public records of religious advocacy groups spanning the years 2008-2010. Researchers also relied on responses to a written questionnaire that was sent to 148 separate, active groups included in the study and completed by 61 of them. Additionally, lead researcher Allen D. Hertzke conducted in-depth interviews with leaders of 36 groups and observed the advocacy efforts of many other groups at congressional hearings, lobby days, press conferences and other Washington-based events.

10th Anniversary of 9/11 and Muslim Americans: the Need for a New Narrative

John L. Esposito and Mona Mogahed

While post-9/11 resulted in necessary Western government responses to counter international and domestic terrorism, this tragic event has been widely exploited by far-right neocons, hardline Christian Zionist Right and xenophobic forces. Islam and mainstream Muslims have been brush-stroked with “terrorism,” equated with the actions of a fraction of violent extremists. Major polls by Gallup, PEW and others reported the extent to which many Americans and Europeans had and have a problem not only with terrorists but also with Islam and all Muslims.

It is truly time for a new narrative, one that is informed by facts, and that is data-driven, to replace the shrill voices of militant Muslim bashers and opportunistic politicians chasing funds and votes. Key findings from the recently released Abu Dhabi Gallup Report, Muslim Americans: Faith, Freedom, and the Future, offer data that provide a good starting point — a very different picture of Muslims in America today.

This September 11th provides an opportunity to remember the past but also to recognize that truth is stranger than fiction, the fiction constructed by preachers of hate whose fear-mongering has infected our popular culture and society. Now is the time to reassess and rebuild our national unity on the facts.

PEW: Religion in the News 2010

Islam the No. 1 Media Topic

Events and controversies related to Islam dominated U.S. press coverage of religion in 2010, bumping the Catholic Church from the top spot, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Much of the coverage focused on the plan to build a mosque and Islamic center near ground zero in New York City, a Florida pastor’s threat to organize a public burning of the Koran and commemorations of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Stories related to these three events collectively accounted for more than 40% of all religion-related coverage studied in mainstream U.S. media (broadcast and cable television, newspapers, radio and major news websites).

Mainstream media devoted more attention to religion in 2010 than in any year since the Pew Research Center began measuring coverage of religion and other subjects in 2007. The amount of space or time media devoted to religion doubled between 2009 and 2010, going from about 1% of total coverage to 2%. And for the first time since tracking began in 2007, neither the Catholic Church nor religion’s role in American politics were the No. 1 topic of religion coverage in major news outlets.

Why Europe Has to Offer a Better Deal Towards its Muslim Communities

Our rigorous quantitative results, based on the first systematic use of the Muslim community data contained in the “European Social Survey” (ESS), compatible with much of the rest of current European political economic thinking regarding the future alternatives for the European Union, and contradict the very extended current alarmist political discourse in Western Europe. Those give strong support to the hypothesis that passive support for Islamist radicalism in Europe and the complete distrust in democracy does not exceed 400.000 persons. We also compare our research results with the recent PEW data. By and large, the two datasets yield the same results. We also find that Muslim economic and social alienation in Europe very much corresponds to deficiencies of the implementation of the “Lisbon” process. We also present a rigorous re-analysis of United States Department of State data on acts of global terrorism in the framework of Kondratiev cycle waves. Further dispelling irrational immigration-phobias and Islamophobia in general, the present work also shows that, by and large, pretty much the same functions of key (positive or negative) UNDP development indicators (y-axis) hold in comparison with purchasing power per capita (x-axis) in the Muslim world and the non-Muslim countries.

Click here to download the ebook.