By Maya Rhodan
December 8, 2015

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has repeatedly said he is basing his incendiary call for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the U.S. on two surveys. One had already been mostly dismissed for its methodology and for coming from a group the Southern Poverty Law Center—which tracks hate groups— called an “extremist think tank.” Trump’s other citation has drawn more notice because it came from the Pew Research Center, a highly-respected, nonpartisan group. “According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population,” Trump said Monday.

But Trump hasn’t made clear which Pew report he’s citing; he has not linked to one in his social media missives or statements, nor did he elaborate during multiple TV appearances Tuesday morning. And the group’s research doesn’t paint the dire picture Trump says it does. Its 2011 report on Muslims Americans says there are “no signs of growth in alienation or support for extremism.” The survey found that 21% of Muslim Americans say there is either a “great deal” (6%) or a “fair amount” (15%) of support for extremism in their community. The survey continues:

Nonetheless, Muslim Americans have not become disillusioned with the country. They are overwhelmingly satisfied with the way things are going in their lives (82%) and continue to rate their communities very positively as places to live (79% excellent or good).

A 2013 Pew survey found varying levels of support for the U.S. in Muslim countries—but no “great hatred.” And while Trump did not mention ISIS, the militant group his proposed ban on Muslims is ostensibly meant to combat, a Pew poll last month found widespread disdain for ISIS in Muslim countries.

“The statement released by Mr. Trump’s campaign does not specify a data point, so we can’t identify the report that he may be referencing,” said James Bell, Pew’s vice president for global strategy. “Pew Research Center has published a number of reports about Muslims and Islam in the United States and around the world, all of which are available here.”

Other findings from Pew Research Center surveys on Muslims include:

-There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and it is the fastest growing religion on earth.
-The majority of Muslims live in the Asia Pacific; in the U.S. there are an estimated 2.75 million Muslims of all ages.
-Muslims in the U.S. are about as religious as Christians in the U.S.—about 70% of both groups say their faith is very important to their lives.
-The majority of Muslims across the world denounce acts like suicide bombings, though Muslims in some countries say acts of violence are sometimes justified. From Pew:

More generally, Muslims mostly say that suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilians in the name of Islam are rarely or never justified, including 92% in Indonesia and 91% in Iraq. In the United States, a 2011 survey found that 86% of Muslims say that such tactics are rarely or never justified. An additional 7% say suicide bombings are sometimes justified and 1% say they are often justified in these circumstances.

Trump has indicated he doesn’t not need polling to prove his point. “Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension,” he said in his statement Monday. “Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”

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