Most Muslims are well integrated into American society

Muslim Americans are solidly integrated in US society, proud of their historical and reli­gious heritage, but also proud to be Americans.

2016/10/09 Issue: 76 Page: 19

The Arab Weekly
Tom Regan

The picture drawn by the US media after an attempted lone-wolf attack is a familiar one. The suspect is a loner, someone who felt alienated by his or her larger community, who had “with­drawn” into religion, which had turned him into a terrorist. The often unspoken but implied idea is that Muslims are not a part of American society, that their religion makes them too much the outsider, that they will never accept American values.

Republican Party candidate for president Donald Trump has seized on this theme, arguing that immigrants to the United States (in particular, those who are Muslim) should be tested to make sure they possess these nebulous American values.

In reality, the vast majority of Muslims who call the United States home are integrated into American society. They have played a key role in helping US law enforcement deal with terrorism, are as likely to earn $100,000 or more as any other American and a greater proportion of them have college degrees than the general US population.

They have also played signifi­cant, award-winning roles in the country’s media and entertain­ment industries.

Muslim Americans were re­cently awarded some of the Online News Association’s top honours. Egyptian-American freelance pho­tojournalist Sima Diab’s portrayal of Arabs’ lives won the James Foley Award for Conflict Report­ing. (Foley was a freelance war cor­respondent who was executed by his Islamic State captors in August 2014.)

In Los Angeles, Rami Malek, one of the stars of the TV show Mr. Ro­bot, won the Emmy for Best Actor in a Dramatic Series, a first for an Egyptian American.

So while Trump was proclaiming that “assimilation” is difficult for Muslims in America, he was ignor­ing almost 300 years of history. Researchers have shown that Mus­lims were in America before there was a United States and many fought in the Revolutionary war, the War of 1812, the Civil war, the first and second world wars, Korea, Vietnam, both Gulf wars as well as the war in Afghanistan. Muslim Americans continue to serve in the US military.

A 2016 survey by the Institute of Social Policy and Understanding found that Muslims who regularly attended a mosque were more like­ly to work with their neighbours to solve community problems and be registered to vote than those who don’t attend a mosque.

Well-known researcher Dalia Mogahed has shown through her work with her former employer, the polling firm Gallup, that Mus­lim Americans have a stronger be­lief in the US judicial system than other Americans, that a majority of them do not say that religion should play any role in the adjudi­cation of law and that among those who do, the percentage is actually lower than the number of Protes­tant Americans who said religion should play a stronger role in legal proceedings.

A Pew Research study in 2011 showed: “Living in a religiously pluralistic society, Muslim Ameri­cans are more likely than Muslims in many other nations to have many non-Muslim friends. Only about half (48%) of US Muslims say all or most of their close friends are also Muslims, compared with a global median of 95% in the 39 countries surveyed.”

The Pew study also indicated that Muslim Americans also have a very open attitude towards the role of women in society, with more than 90% of respondents saying that women have a right to work outside the home.

The key here is the word “inte­grated”, rather than “assimilated”. Instead Muslim Americans are solidly integrated in US society, proud of their historical and reli­gious heritage, but also proud to be Americans, a part of the diverse tapestry that is the real America.

Tom Regan, a columnist at, previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, the Boston Globe and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He is the former executive director of the Online News Association and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard in 1992.

As Printed
Editors' Picks

The Arab Weekly Newspaper reaches Western & Arabic audience that are influential as well as being affluent.

From Europe to the Middle East,and North America, The Arab Weekly talks to opinion formers and influential figures, providing insight and comment on national, international and regional news through the focus of Arabic countries and community.

Published by Al Arab Publishing House

Publisher and Group Executive Editor: Haitham El-Zobaidi, PhD

Editor-in-Chief: Oussama Romdhani

Managing Editor: Iman Zayat

Deputy Managing Editor and Online Editor: Mamoon Alabbasi

Senior Editor: John Hendel

Chief Copy Editor: Richard Pretorius

Copy Editor: Stephen Quillen

Analysis Section Editor: Ed Blanche

East/West Section Editor: Mark Habeeb

Gulf Section Editor: Mohammed Alkhereiji

Society and Travel Sections Editor: Samar Kadi

Syria and Lebanon Sections Editor: Simon Speakman Cordall

Contributing Editor: Rashmee Roshan Lall

Senior Correspondents: Mahmud el-Shafey (London) & Lamine Ghanmi (Tunis)

Regular Columnists

Claude Salhani

Yavuz Baydar


Saad Guerraoui (Casablanca)

Dunia El-Zobaidi (London)

Roua Khlifi (Tunis)

Thomas Seibert (Washington)

Chief Designer: Marwen Hmedi


Ibrahim Ben Bechir

Hanen Jebali

Published by Al Arab Publishing House

Contact editor

Subscription & Advertising:

Tel 020 3667 7249

Mohamed Al Mufti

Marketing & Advertising Manager

Tel (Main) +44 20 6702 3999

Direct: +44 20 8742 9262

Al Arab Publishing House

Kensington Centre

177-179 Hammersmith Road

London W6 8BS , UK

Tel: (+44) 20 7602 3999

Fax: (+44) 20 7602 8778

Follow Us
© The Arab Weekly, All rights reserved