44% say the government should restrict Muslims' civil liberties
In U.S., 44 Percent Say Restrict Muslims
Dec 17, 9:02 PM (ET)
By WILLIAM KATES
ITHACA, N.Y. (AP) - Nearly half of all Americans
believe the U.S. government should restrict the civil
liberties of Muslim Americans, according to a
The survey conducted by Cornell University also found
that Republicans and people who described themselves
as highly religious were more apt to support
curtailing Muslims' civil liberties than Democrats or
people who are less religious.
Researchers also found that respondents who paid more
attention to television news were more likely to fear
terrorist attacks and support limiting the rights of
"It's sad news. It's disturbing news. But it's not
unpredictable," said Mahdi Bray, executive director of
the Muslim American Society. "The nation is at war,
even if it's not a traditional war. We just have to
remain vigilant and continue to interface."
The survey found 44 percent favored at least some
restrictions on the civil liberties of Muslim
Americans. Forty-eight percent said liberties should
not be restricted in any way.
The survey showed that 27 percent of respondents
supported requiring all Muslim Americans to register
where they lived with the federal government.
Twenty-two percent favored racial profiling to
identify potential terrorist threats. And 29 percent
thought undercover agents should infiltrate Muslim
civic and volunteer organizations to keep tabs on
their activities and fund-raising.
Cornell student researchers questioned 715 people in
the nationwide telephone poll conducted this fall. The
margin of error was 3.6 percentage points.
James Shanahan, an associate professor of
communications who helped organize the survey, said
the results indicate "the need for continued dialogue
about issues of civil liberties" in a time of war.
While researchers said they were not surprised by the
overall level of support for curtailing civil
liberties, they were startled by the correlation with
religion and exposure to television news.
"We need to explore why these two very important
channels of discourse may nurture fear rather than
understanding," Shanahan said.
According to the survey, 37 percent believe a
terrorist attack in the United States is still likely
within the next 12 months. In a similar poll conducted
by Cornell in November 2002, that number stood at 90
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