Most Americans ‘Know Little or Nothing About Islam,’ Survey Shows

Muslim men pray at a mosque in Jersey City, New Jersey, on December 7, 2015. Muslim Americ
Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

The Pew Research Center finds U.S. citizens are remarkably uneducated about Islam, with most Americans saying they know “little or nothing” about the religion.

In 2014, the Pew Center conducted a study on the perceptions of Americans toward members of different religious groups, based on a 100-point “feeling thermometer,” where 0 reflects the coldest, most negative rating and 100 the warmest, most positive rating.

Whereas Jews, Catholics and evangelical Christians were all viewed warmly, and Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons were viewed neutrally, only Muslims were viewed coldly. Muslims, in fact, were the only group to be perceived more negatively than atheists, with an average thermometer rating of just 40. Among all Americans, 41 percent rated Muslims in the coldest part of the thermometer, 33 or below.

Americans’ knowledge of Islam is minimal, a new report shows, with 30 percent saying they do not know very much about the Muslim religion and its practices and another 25 percent saying they know nothing at all. Only 9 percent of Americans say they know a great deal about Islam and about a third (35 percent) say they know something about the Muslim religion.

A recent video that has gone viral on social media features a young woman raised Muslim in the Middle East who castigates Americans for their ignorance of Islam. Rather than defend her native religion, however, the young woman says that Americans have no idea how dangerous Islam is.

Though President Obama recently compared Muslim immigrants to the pilgrims who first came to American shores, the anonymous woman said that Islam is an inherently flawed and dangerous religion.

“Seeing how people won’t stop being dimwits, I’m going to have to spell this out for you,” she said.

“If you fall for this jihadist self-betterment crap,” she said, “you deserve anything that comes to you.”

The woman said that Americans have been fed a “sugar-coated” version of Islam that doesn’t correspond to the real thing. Far from being an aberration of Islam, ISIS and other jihadist groups are what Islam is all about, she said.

“They’re not bad Muslims,” she said, referring to Islamic State militants. “They’re perfect Muslims. I have never seen more developed Muslims in my life, and I grew up as one.”

The woman also urges viewers to look into the history of Islam and the life of Mohammed, its founder.

“What did Mohammad do? He was a rapist, a pedophile, a mass murderer,” she said. “Not to mention a warmonger, liar, cheater, thief, adulterer.”

“You want to teach about Islam, teach about Muhammad’s sex slaves,” she said. The woman calls feminists and LGBT activists “hypocrites” before reminding viewers that under Islam, women are stoned and butchered.

“People who are just accused of being gay in Muslim countries” are thrown off of buildings, she said.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome


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