Pew: 8% of U.S. Muslims Say Suicide Bombing, Violence Against Civilian Targets ‘Often’ or ‘Sometimes Justified’

By Michael W. Chapman | December 14, 2015 | 1:11pm EST

(AP photo)

( – Survey data released by the Pew Research Center in 2013 show that 8% of U.S. Muslims believe that the use of “suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets” is either “often” or “sometimes” justified in defense of Islam.

In surveys conducted in 2011 and 2007,  Pew found that 1% of U.S. Muslims said such violence against civilian targets was “often justified,” and another 7% said it was “sometimes justified,” for a total of 8% who said it was either "often justified" or "sometimes justified." 

Pew re-reported these numbers in its 2013 report, The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society.

According to a December 2015 “key findings” update, Pew says there are an estimated 2.75 million Muslims in the United States of all ages, and that 1.8 million of them are adults.

In the “suicide bombing” question of 2011 and 2007, Pew asked,

“Some people think that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets are justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies. Other people believe that, no matter what the reason, this kind of violence is never justified. Do you personally feel that this kind of violence is often justified to defend Islam, sometimes justified, rarely justified, or never justified?”


Although 81% of U.S. Muslims said such violence was “never justified,” 1% said it was “often justified” and 7% said it was “sometimes justified.” 

Another 5% said it was “rarely justified.”  (Those were the numbers both times, in 2007 and in 2011.)

When Pew asked the same question of Muslims in other countries in 2011, it found, for instance, that 28% of Egyptian Muslims believe that suicide bombing or other forms of violence against civilian targets was “often” or “sometimes” justified to defend Islam.  

In Indonesia, the number was 10% of the Muslims population; Jordan, 13%; Lebanon, 35%; Pakistan, 5%; and Turkey, 7%. 



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