Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream

The first-ever, nationwide, random sample survey of Muslim Americans finds them to be largely assimilated, happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world.

The Pew Research Center conducted more than 55,000 interviews to obtain a national sample of 1,050 Muslims living in the United States. Interviews were conducted in English, Arabic, Farsi and Urdu. The resulting study, which draws on Pew’s survey research among Muslims around the world, finds that Muslim Americans are a highly diverse population, one largely composed of immigrants. Nonetheless, they are decidedly American in their outlook, values and attitudes. This belief is reflected in Muslim American income and education levels, which generally mirror those of the public.

Key findings include:

  • Overall, Muslim Americans have a generally positive view of the larger society. Most say their communities are excellent or good places to live.
  • A large majority of Muslim Americans believe that hard work pays off in this society. Fully 71% agree that most people who want to get ahead in the United States can make it if they are willing to work hard.
  • The survey shows that although many Muslims are relative newcomers to the U.S., they are highly assimilated into American society. On balance, they believe that Muslims coming to the U.S. should try and adopt American customs, rather than trying to remain distinct from the larger society. And by nearly two-to-one (63%-32%) Muslim Americans do not see a conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society.
  • Roughly two-thirds (65%) of adult Muslims in the U.S. were born elsewhere. A relatively large proportion of Muslim immigrants are from Arab countries, but many also come from Pakistan and other South Asian countries. Among native-born Muslims, roughly half are African American (20% of U.S. Muslims overall), many of whom are converts to Islam.
  • Based on data from this survey, along with available Census Bureau data on immigrants’ nativity and nationality, the Pew Research Center estimates the total population of Muslims in the United States at 2.35 million.
  • Muslim Americans reject Islamic extremism by larger margins than do Muslim minorities in Western European countries. However, there is somewhat more acceptance of Islamic extremism in some segments of the U.S. Muslim public than others. Fewer native-born African American Muslims than others completely condemn al Qaeda. In addition, younger Muslims in the U.S. are much more likely than older Muslim Americans to say that suicide bombing in the defense of Islam can be at least sometimes justified. Nonetheless, absolute levels of support for Islamic extremism among Muslim Americans are quite low, especially when compared with Muslims around the world.
  • A majority of Muslim Americans (53%) say it has become more difficult to be a Muslim in the United States since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Most also believe that the government “singles out” Muslims for increased surveillance and monitoring. Relatively few Muslim Americans believe the U.S.-led war on terror is a sincere effort to reduce terrorism, and many doubt that Arabs were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Just 40% of Muslim Americans say groups of Arabs carried out those attacks.

Pew Center poll page

Download PDF of report

Jocelyne Cesari

Jocelyne Cesari profile photoJocelyne Cesari, is an Associate at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and Center for European Studies and teaches at the Harvard Divinity School and Government Department. Dr. Cesari is a French political scientist, tenured at the French National Center for Scientific Research in Paris and specializing in contemporary Islamic societies. Before coming to Harvard, she served as an Associate Research Scholar and Visiting Professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. At Harvard, she is Director of the interfaculty Islam in the West Program (see This research program produced a major publication, the Encyclopedia of Islam in the United States, which was published by Greenwood Press in September of 2007. She also coordinates the new web-based initiative on contemporary Islamic thinking called islamopediaonline (
Her areas of expertise include Islam and globalization, Muslim minorities in Europe and America, and Islam and politics in North Africa. Over the course of her career, Dr. Cesari has published fifteen books and more than fifty articles in European and American journals. Her most recent books and articles are :Muslims in the West After 9/11: Religion, Politics and Law (2009, Routledge), “Islam in the West from Immigration to Global Islam”, Harvard Middle Eastern and Islamic Review, (8) 2009, pp.147-275, When Islam and Democracy Meet: Muslims in Europe and in the United States (Palgrave 2006) and European Muslims and the Secular State (Ashgate 2005).She has also received grants to write the reports “Islam and Fundamental Rights” and “The Religious Consequences of September 11, 2001, on Muslims in Europe” for the European Commission (see

Les musulmans français sont plus tolérants que leurs voisins européens

Criticized by the American press to the moment of the riots of the fall 2005 in the suburbs, the French model of integration is rehabilitated by an investigation published by the Pew Research Center, the one of the opinion institutes the most renowned ones of the United States. According to this investigation, realized in the spring with Muslims of four European countries and of which the complete results were published August 17, the France Muslims have not any integration lesson to receive of their European neighbors.

Multiculturalism In Britain Is Dead, Says New Research

By Prasun Sonwalkar Multiculturalism as a way of social integration in Britain is dead, concludes a unique University of Leicester study after the July 7, 2005, blasts in London. It should instead be replaced by the idea of inter-culturalism, says the report published after the conclusion of the one-year research. The findings have significant bearing on Britain’s policies towards Asian and Afro-Caribbean minorities. Inter-culturalism is defined as a sharing of cultural experiences with people from a different culture. It contrasts with multiculturalism that celebrates diversity. The report, titled “Engagement With Cultures: From Diversity to Inter-culturalism”, is authored by researchers Bill Law, Tim Haq and Asaf Hussain, who carried out their research in Leicester, a town in the east Midlands with a large minority of Asian and Afro-Caribbean origin. The authors state: “We believe multiculturalism has failed. It was a concept and a social re-engineering policy with the best of intentions, but with little debate at the grassroots. It failed to recognise or ignored the dangers of religious fundamentalism with deadly consequences. “It was yesterday’s message conveyed by yesterday’s men and women. “Multicultural policies saved no lives in London. The ones who died and were injured through the terrorist actions of British born terrorists in July 2005 came from all countries, cultures and religions.” “Our message is simple. Britain’s population has to become integrated.” Key conclusions of the report are: * Cities with immigrants directly from South Asia face greater challenges than those whose South Asian immigrants came from Africa. * Inter-cultural bridging has no value if it is a middleclass exercise. It has to occur at grassroots to have any impact. * Funding of cultural organisations must change. Funding should be conditional on engaging with other cultures. * Ensure citizenship is part of the education agenda. * Remove the link between religion and nationality, for example British Muslim, as this is mutually contradictory (one refers to a nationality and the other to a faith). Instead, this should be replaced with, for example, British Indian or British Pakistani. The report adds: “The term ‘British’ should be given specific meaning in terms of values of the adopted land in which such persons are settled.” According to the authors, “The term British should mean values of British society. It suggests respect for the monarchy; loyalty to the state (elected government); internalise values of democracy ie to express difference through democratic process, not violence; respect and abide by the law; accept plural society.”

Islam, Citizenship and European Integration

École de Médecine 15, rue de l’École de Méde cine, 75006 Paris

A Roundtable By The Network On Comparative Research On Islam and Muslims In Europe (NOCRIME)

Organized with the Sponsorship of the European Commission (DG Research)

Keynote address by Jocelyne Cesari

Key question addressed: do Muslims Create and Organize their Communities in Ways that Affect Citizenship Formation and Political Mobilization?

  • Muslim Women and European Citizenship
  • Gema Martín-Muñoz, University Autonoma of Madrid Muslim Women in Spain. Leadership and Religious Identity in an Accommodation Framework
  • Nico Landman, Utrecht University Dutch Muslim Women in National and Local Politics: Intermediaries between State and Mosque Organisations?
  • Valérie Amiraux, CURAPP and European University Institute Local Muslim Leaderships in France: Coping with Generations, Gender and Politics
  • DISCUSSANTS: Sabiha El-Zayat, Centre for Islamic Women Studies – Zentrum für Islamische Frauenforschung Ahmed Jaballah, IESH – Institut Européen des Sciences Humaines de Paris
  • European Citizenship and Muslim Leadership

  • CHAIR: Pandeli Glavanis, Manchester University
  • Sean McLoughlin, Leeds University Citizenship and Muslim Leaderships in the UK: Orientations of the Muslim Council of Britain and the Islamic Foundation
  • Chantal Saint-Blancat, University of Padov, Ottavia Schmidt di Frieberg, University of Trieste Local Leadership: Visible and Invisible Interactions with the Italian Local Society in Northern Italy
  • Jonas Otterbeck, Malmö University Muslim Callers in Sweden
  • Moussa Khedimellah, GSRL (CNRS-EPHE) Opposition or Compatibility between Local and National French Muslim Leaders: The Case of Paris
  • DISCUSSANTS: Dilwar Hussain, Islamic Foundation Tariq Ramadan, University of Fribourg

  • Pandeli Glavanis, Manchester University
  • CONCLUDING REMARKS: Angela Liberatore, European Commission – DG Research
  • Integration of Muslim Migrants in Europe: Religious and Political Aspects in the aftermath of September 11, 2001

    A Roundtable By The Network On Comparative Research On Islam and Muslims In Europe (NOCRIME) Organized with the Censorship of the European Commission (DG Research)

    Session 1: Legal, Social and Cultural Aspects of Integration of Islam in Different European Countries and in the European Union

    Opening Remarks and Introduction

  • Jean-Paul Willaime EPHE, Director of GSRL (CNRS-EPHE)
  • Key Notes Speakers

  • Legal Aspects of Islamic Integration in Europe Anthony Bradney Leicester University
  • Islam in European Social, Religious and Multicultural Policies Jocelyne Cesari GSRL-CNRS, Harvard University, NOCRIME coordinator
  • Chair Jean-Paul Willaime EPHE, Director of GSRL (CNRS-EPHE)

  • Debate with NOCRIME members And Muslim Representatives Research Group on French Islam, GSRL-CNRS, (Omero Marongiu, Sakina Bargach) 1) Key Point: What Is Integration? 2) Key Point: Symbolic and Legal Gap between Muslims and European Political Spheres 3) Key Point: Transnational Links and Relationship with the Countries of Origin
  • Chantal Saint Blancat University of Padova
  • Ottavia Schmidt di Friedberg University of Trieste
  • Gerdien Jonker Marburg University
  • Séan McLoughlin Leeds University
  • Dilwar Hussain The Islamic Foundation, U.K.
  • Hakim Elghissassi Magazine La Medina, France
  • Lidya Nofal AL-INSANN, Germany
  • Rijai Tatari UCIDE, Spain
  • Ahmed Jaballah Institut Européen des Sciences Humaines, France
  • Session 2: The Political Dimension of Inclusion of Islam The Question of Islam in European Governance

    Key Note Speakers

  • Consequences of September 11th on Immigration and Foreign Policies in Europe
  • Didier Bigo Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris
  • Elspeth Guild University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  • Responses of the EU to September 11th
  • Tung-Lai Margue European Commission, DG Justice and Home Affairs
  • Angela Liberatore European Commission, DG Research
  • Chair

  • Aristotelis Gavriliadis European Commission, DG Justice and Home Affairs
  • Debate with NOCRIME members And Muslim Representatives Key Point: Racism and Xenophobia against Muslims and the Role of the European Institutions

  • Jocelyne Cesari GSRL-CNRS, Harvard University, NOCRIME coordinator
  • Valérie Amiraux CURAPP-CNRS
  • Nico Landman Utrecht University
  • Jonas Otterbek Malmö University
  • Gema Martín-Muñoz University Autonoma of Madrid
  • And Muslim Representatives

  • Dilwar Hussain The Islamic Foundation, U.K.
  • Hakim Elghissassi Magazine La Medina, France
  • Lidya Nofal AL-INSANN, Germany
  • Rijai Tatari UCIDE, Spain
  • Debate with NOCRIME members And Muslim Representatives Key Point: The Muslim Voice in the Political and Legal Debate After 9/11

    Concluding Remarks

    Jocelyne Cesari GSRL-CNRS, Harvard University, NOCRIME coordinator

    Sorbonne: Salle des Commissions du Rectorat 46, rue St-Jacques – 75005 Paris

    The Social building of Muslim Communities in Europe

    A Roundtable By The Network On Comparative Research On Islam And Muslims In Europe (NOCRIME)

    Session 1: The Social Building of Muslim Communities in Europe: Internal Factors

    Opening remarks and Introduction by Jean Baubérot, President of EPHE (Sorbonne) and Director of GSRL (CNRS-EPHE) and Jean-Paul Willaime, EPHE, Associate Director of GSRL (CNRS-EPHE).

    CHAIR : Dr Martin Van Bruinessen, Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World [ISIM] Leiden.

  • Jorgen Baek Simonsen, Copenhague University , “Social Networks of Muslims in Denmark and Interactions with the Muslim World”
  • Nico Landman, Utrecht University, “Social and Religious variety of the Muslim Presence in the Netherlands”
  • Sean McLoughlin, Leeds University, “British-Muslims Today: National Recognition, Local Polarisation?”
  • Gema Martin-Munoz, University Autonoma of Madrid, “Cultural and Religious Dimensions of the Moroccan Immigration in Spain”
  • Ottavia Schmidt di Frieberg, University of Trieste, “Transnational Networks of Muslim Migrants in Italy”
  • Discussion led by Pierre-Jean Luizard, GSRL (CNRS-EPHE) and Hocine Benkheira, GSRL (CNRS-EPHE)

    Session 2: The Building of Muslim Communities in Europe: External Constraints

    CHAIR: Jean-Paul Willaime, EPHE, Associate Director of GSRL (CNRS-EPHE)

  • Jocelyne Cesari, GSRL (CNRS-EPHE) and Harvard University, “New forms of Muslim Leadership in France”
  • Chantal Saint-Blancat, University of Padova, “Social Construction of Islam in the Italian Public Sphere”
  • Valerie Amiraux, CURAPP/CNRS and European University Institute, “The Production of Discourses on Islam in Western Europe”
  • DISCUSSION of the Session and General Discussion led by Tariq Ramadan, University of Fribourg and Olivier Roy, CNRS.