Poll: 1 in 3 think Muslim Americans more sympathetic to terrorists than other Americans

CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.

Ten years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, one in three Americans think Muslim Americans are more sympathetic to terrorists than other Americans, a new CBS News/ New York Times poll shows.

Nearly 60 percent of Americans do not think Muslim Americans are more sympathetic to terrorists, according to the poll, conducted in late August. Residents of New York City polled have similar opinions.

A quarter of Americans, as well as 20 percent of New Yorkers, admit they hold negative opinions of Muslims because of 9/11. Among adults who say a close friend or family member was killed on 9/11, 25 percent also say they have negative feelings toward Muslims.

As many as 55 percent of Americans say they know people who have negative feelings toward Muslims because of 9/11. New Yorkers and close family and friends of 9/11 victims gave similar answers. More than three in four Americans say it is likely that Muslims, Arab Americans and immigrants from the Middle East get unfairly singled out in the United States.

Views on Muslims are a bit different among Americans who have a close friend who is Muslim: 43 percent of them say Muslims are very likely to be unfairly singled out, compared to 29 percent of the public nationwide. Only 10 percent of those with a close friend who is Muslim hold negative feelings toward Muslims because of 9/11 and 73 percent do not think Muslim Americans are more sympathetic to terrorists.

CBSNews.com special report: 9/11 10 years later

Most Americans, and even more New Yorkers, have heard or read about the proposed Islamic community center and mosque two blocks from Ground Zero, but close friends and family of 9/11 victims are following that story the closest. Nearly half of those who had a close friend or relative who died in the 9/11 attacks say they have heard or read a lot about the proposed Islamic community center. Add a line about how that was a big controversy last year

Fifty-two percent of Americans oppose the building of the center, as do 55 percent of Americans who were close to a 9/11 victim (45 percent of those Americans oppose it strongly). At 45 percent, New Yorkers are less likely to be opposed, but more are against the building of the community center than for it.

Among Americans who have a close friend who is Muslim, 51 percent favor the proposed Islamic community center.

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Read the full poll (PDF)


The national poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 1,165 adults, interviewed by telephone August 19-23, 2011. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the complete sample. The error for subgroups is higher.

The New York City poll was conducted among a citywide random sample of 1,027 adults, interviewed by telephone August 9-15, 2011. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the complete sample. The error for subgroups is higher.

The friends and family poll was conducted among a nationwide sample of 246 adults who say a close friend or family member was killed on 9/11, interviewed by telephone August 11-23, 2011. 854 respondents fitting this description were identified in previous CBS News and CBS News/New York Times Polls conducted since late 2010 and were called back for this survey. The results for the 246 adults responding to the callback were weighted to demographic targets based on all of the 854 who were called. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus six percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

All three samples included standard land-lines and cell phones. These poll releases conform to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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