Survey Rebuts Rep. Peter King's Claims on Radicals and Mosques


David Gibson

Religion Reporter
As Rep. Peter King opened his controversial hearing into "radicalization in the American Muslim community" on Thursday morning, researchers were noting that King's claims about mosques in the United States being controlled by "radical imams" who are producing extremists are apparently untrue.

King, a Long Island Republican under fire for once supporting Irish Republican Army terrorism but now pursuing Islamic extremism, has claimed that over 80 percent of American mosques are controlled by "radical imams" and that Muslims are "an enemy living amongst us" who are not helping authorities combat terrorism. He has also lamented the number of mosques in the United States because they breed "home-grown" terrorists.

But a 2008 survey of 1,410 Muslims that was the largest ever conducted showed that almost all Muslims who regularly go to a mosque are likely to agree with the statement that Islam and the American political system are compatible.

The study by Karam Dana, who teaches at Tufts University, and colleague Matt A. Barreto shows that among Muslims who do not attend religious services regularly, 77 percent answered "yes" when asked whether Islam and American political values are compatible. Among those who are regularly involved in a mosque, that figure rose to 95 percent. The research confirmed results from a smaller, earlier survey.

"The more religious American Muslims happen to be, the more they participate in American politics," Dana told Religion News Service.

Like other religious institutions in the United States, mosques have helped members assimilate into American society and promoted support for American civic and political values, Dana said.

"Decades of scholarship on religious institutions, be they churches or synagogues, have shown that they foster participation in the political system," said Dana. "We believe that mosques are no different."