WASHINGTON (RNS)—Americans haven’t heard much about congressional hearings on the radicalization of U.S. Muslims, but more than half think it’s a good idea, and nearly as many believe Muslims here haven’t done enough to fight extremists in their midst, according to a new poll.
At the same time, 62 percent say American Muslims are an important part of the religious community, and a clear majority—72 percent—say Congress should investigate religious extremism anywhere it exists, not just among Muslims, according to a PRRI/RNS religion news poll.
The poll, conducted by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service, was released as House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., prepares to hold hearings on the threat of homegrown Islamic extremism during the week of March 7.
The poll examined attitudes toward both the hearings and American Muslims, analyzing the responses by gender, age, most trusted news source, and religious and political affiliation.
Overall, men, viewers who trust Fox News, white evangelicals and Republicans are more likely to think the hearings are a good idea and to believe Muslims want to establish Shariah law in the United States. The hearings find less support among Democrats (45 percent), people who trust CNN (45 percent) or public television (28 percent), and white mainline Protestants (50 percent).
Nearly half (49 percent) of Americans do not believe Muslims in the U.S. have been unfairly targeted by law enforcement; more than one-third (36 percent) believe Muslims have been targeted unfairly. One in five (22 percent) Americans believes U.S. Muslims want to establish Shariah law here.