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Mosques And American Identity

Mosques And American Identity


March 8, 2011

Author: Karam Dana, Former Research Fellow, The Dubai Initiative

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Dubai Initiative


The American Prospect

Social scientists Matt Barreto and Karam Dana have completed a survey showing that mosque attendance among American Muslims is correlated not just with greater civic participation, but with the belief that Islam and American politics are compatible.

Here's a chart from the survey:

Mosque  survey.jpg

According to Dana, their survey of 1410 American Muslim respondents between 2006 and 2008 is the largest ever. But the findings don't reveal anything particularly unique about Islam or American Muslims. Rather, Dana and Barreto write that the survey is "consistent with decades of research on other religious groups such as Jews, Protestants and Catholics where church attendance and religiosity has been proven to result in higher civic engagement and support for core values of the American political system." A core belief of both Islamist extremists and Islamophobes is that Islam and democracy are incompatible--a belief that, based on the survey, the overwhelming number of observant Muslims in the U.S. reject.

“Mosques are no different from any other religious institutions and cultural centers in the Untied States," says Dana, who added that he hoped the results would offer a different perspective from that of Rep. Peter King, who has baselessly alleged that most American mosques are radicalized. "Targeting mosques as un-American institutions is an approach that is misinformed.”

With their vocal opposition to the construction of American mosques and community centers, activists on the right are short-circuiting the process by which Muslims integrate into American society. It wouldn't be the first time that reactionary cultural impulses secured the opposite result of that which was intended.


For more information about this publication please contact the The Dubai Initiative at 617-496-3694.

For Academic Citation:

Serwer, Adam. "Mosques And American Identity." The American Prospect, March 8, 2011.

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