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Poll finds Muslims in U.S. feel bias; Majority praise their communities

More than half of Muslim Americans in a new poll say government anti-terrorism policies single them out for increased surveillance and monitoring, and many report increased cases of name-calling, threats and harassment by airport security, law enforcement officers and others.

Still, most Muslim Americans say they are satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. and rate their communities highly as places to live.

The survey by the Pew Research Center, one of the most exhaustive of the country's Muslims, found no signs of rising alienation or anger among Muslim Americans despite recent U.S. government concerns about homegrown Islamic terrorism and controversy over the building of mosques.

"This confirms what we've said all along: American Muslims are well integrated and happy, but with a kind of lingering sense of being besieged by growing anti-Muslim sentiment in our society," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group based in Washington, D.C.

Muslim extremists hijacked four passenger planes on Sept. 11, 2001. The planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Pa., killing nearly 3,000 people.

In the poll released Tuesday, 52 percent of Muslim Americans surveyed said their group is singled out by government for terrorist surveillance, while 43 percent reported they had personally experienced harassment in the past year, up from 40 percent in 2007, the first time Pew polled Muslim Americans.

Asked to identify in what ways they felt bias, about 28 percent said they had been treated or viewed with suspicion by people, while 22 percent said they were called offensive names. About 21 percent said they were singled out by airport security because they were Muslim, while another 13 percent said they were targeted by other law enforcement officials. Roughly 6 percent said they had been physically threatened or attacked.

The poll found that the share of Muslim Americans who view U.S. anti-terror policies as "sincere" efforts to reduce international terrorism now surpasses those who view them as insincere -- 43 percent to 41 percent. Four years ago, far more viewed U.S. anti-terrorism efforts as insincere than sincere -- 55 percent to 26 percent.

The vast majority of Muslim Americans -- 79 percent -- rate their communities as either "excellent" or "good" places to live, even among many who reported an act of vandalism against a mosque or a controversy over the building of an Islamic center in their neighborhoods.

They also are now more likely to say they are satisfied with the current direction of the country -- 56 percent, up from 38 percent in 2007. That is in contrast to the general U.S. public, whose satisfaction has dropped from 32 percent to 23 percent.

Andrew Kohut, Pew president, said in an interview that Muslim Americans' overall level of satisfaction was striking.

"I was concerned about a bigger sense of alienation, but there was not," Kohut said, contrasting the U.S. to many places in Europe where Muslims have become more separatist.

The survey is based on telephone interviews with 1,033 Muslims in the U.S. from April 14 to July 22. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

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