Kathleen Parker

What a relief to read in a new Pew Research Center study that Muslims in America are ``largely assimilated, happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world.''

Phew. Praise Allah. No more worries.

On the other hand, the study's findings may depend on how you define ``largely.''

Here's another way of putting the Pew results: While a majority of older U.S. Muslims have largely assimilated, more than a few younger Muslims think suicide bombings are justified.

Having trouble remembering where you put those pompoms? Stick around. Despite the upbeat treatment of the Pew study -- and headlines that conveyed a positive message -- the devil in the details is less reassuring.

In fact, the survey found that though a majority of the 1,050 surveyed (a fraction of the Pew's estimated 2.35 million Muslims in this country) are prospering, a significant minority are not assimilating and sympathize with radical Islam.

There is good news among the survey results, to be sure, especially if you're Muslim. In classically American fashion, 71 percent think that one can get ahead by working hard and 78 percent report being happy. In delightful news, those who report being happiest are young Muslims ages 18-29, who also comprise 30 percent of the total U.S. Muslim population.

In less happy news, these young Muslims are also more accepting of Islamist extremism. Add to that disconcerting note the following:

Sixty percent of the young group consider themselves Muslim first, American second. Among all young Muslims, 26 percent think that suicide bombings are justified often, sometimes or rarely. Another 5 percent said they ``don't know'' or refused to answer.

Don't know? To kill civilians or not to kill civilians is not a tricky question.

If 26 percent are fine with suicide bombing and another 5 percent probably are, then we may reasonably conclude that 31 percent of young American Muslims -- or roughly 219,000 -- support murdering innocents in the name of Islam. Peachy. Given that 9/11 was a supersized suicide bombing, it would seem we have a problem.

In another finding of Muslim American disconnect, fewer than half of all American Muslims believe that Arabs engineered the 9/11 attacks. Another third expressed no opinion or refused to answer.

That means that the vast majority of Muslims in America think ... what? That the U.S. attacked itself? That Israel did it?


Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
 
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