In the aftermath of the uproar caused by Donald Trump’s press release “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” the Pew Research Center released some truly astonishing polling data on the support among Muslims worldwide for sharia law.
Have a look at these numbers:
Everywhere we look around the globe, there are substantial – and generally dominant – percentages of Muslims who favor making sharia the official law in their country.
When broken down by region, the numbers are even more troubling:
Since the majority of Muslims worldwide favor enshrining sharia law in their home country, why would they not want to support sharia law in any country they emigrate to? It is incoherent to assume that a Muslim from, say, Morocco (where 83 percent of Muslims favor sharia law) who emigrates to the United States would want to enshrine sharia law in Morocco but not the USA.
And this is the valid point Trump is getting at: since there are large proportions of Muslims around the world that do not believe in the West’s principles and freedoms, we need to be far more cautious about whom we are letting in. Statistically speaking, the Pew data unequivocally shows that a Muslim immigrant from most of the world is far more likely than not to desire the enshrinement of sharia law. It is also important to note that almost all American Muslims (i.e., upwards of more than 80 percent) – either foreign-born or born in the USA – are originally from the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, or sub-Saharan Africa, the regions with the highest indigenous support for sharia law.
The percentages supporting the imposition of sharia law from Southern-Eastern Europe and Central Asia are lower but still at levels of concern, given the large numbers of immigrants from these regions into the West.
Last, but not least, Pew also released the following startling results from a survey of Muslim Americans in 2011:
- “A significant minority (21 percent) of Muslim Americans say there is a great deal (6 percent) or a fair amount (15 percent) of support for extremism in the Muslim American community.” Only 34 percent of U.S. Muslims said there is no support for extremism in the Muslim American community.
- “[One percent of Muslim Americans] say that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets are often justified to defend Islam from its enemies; an additional 7 percent say suicide bombings are sometimes justified in these circumstances.”
- “[P]ercentage of Muslim Americans express[ing] favorable views of al Qaeda – 2 percent very favorable and 3 percent somewhat favorable.” Another 11 percent of U.S. Muslims only view al Qaeda “somewhat unfavorably.”
- Thirty-one percent of U.S. Muslims see a “[c]onflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society.”
With millions of Muslims already living in the United States, the scope of the potential problem emerges.
If we take the accepted estimate of 2.75 million Muslims in the USA at present, the Pew polling data suggests that there are 220,000 Muslim Americans who believe that suicide bombings are often or sometimes justified to defend Islam from its enemies, 138,000 who hold a favorable or somewhat favorable view of al Qaeda, and more than 850,000 Muslim Americans who see a conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society such as that of the United States.
Clearly some serious issues for policymakers and presidential candidates to be concerned about.