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Americans Think Charlie-like Attack Likely Here

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Americans are hesitant to link the terrorist massacre in Paris this past week to the true beliefs of Islam, but many worry a similar attack on those critical of the religion in the United States could happen in the near future.

Sixty-five percent (65%) of American Adults believe it is at least somewhat likely an attack on those critical of Islam will happen in this country in the next year. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 26% think an attack similar to the one against the satirical Parisian publication Charlie Hebdo which mocked radical Islamicists is unlikely to happen here. This includes 29% who say such an attack is Very Likely and just five percent (5%) who say it’s Not At All Likely. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Even before the Paris incident, 86% of Likely Voters said radical Islamic terrorism is a threat to the United States.

It has been reported that the attackers in Paris shouted an Islamic expression of faith and also that they had avenged the prophet Mohammed after they killed several people in the magazine's office. However, only 24% of Americans think the actions of the killers represent the true beliefs of Islam. Fifty-two percent (52%) don’t think their actions represent the faith, but another 24% are not sure.

By comparison, just 16% think the Taliban in Afghanistan represent true Islamic beliefs, and 27% say that of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

At the same time, most Americans (60%) don’t think it’s religious discrimination to refer to the killers as Islamic terrorists. Twenty percent (20%) do think it is discrimination to label the killers this way, but just as many (20%) aren’t sure.

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The national survey of 800 American Adults was conducted on January 8-9, 2015 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

The number of voters who think the United States is winning the War on Terror continues to fall to new lows, and more than ever they see a terrorist attack as the biggest threat to the nation.

Seventy-four percent (74%) of Americans are following news reports about the terrorist incident in Paris, including 37% who are following it Very Closely. The more closely one is following the story, the more likely he or she is to believe a similar attack could happen here and that the killers represent the true beliefs of Islam.

Women and Americans under 40 are less likely than men and older adults to believe the killers in Paris represent true Islamic beliefs and feel less strongly that a similar attack will occur in the United States.

But Americans of all ages agree that referring to the killers as Islamic terrorists is not religious discrimination.

Republicans feel much more strongly than Democrats and adults not affiliated with either of the major parties that an attack on those critical of Islam is likely to happen in the United States. Forty percent (40%) of Republicans think the Paris killers represent true Islam, compared to just 12% of Democrats and 23% of unaffiliateds.

Religious tolerance, however, is a one-way street when it comes to the Muslim world, most U.S. voters say. Sixty-six percent (66%) believe most Christians living in the Islamic world are treated unfairly because of their religious faith. By comparison, just 20% think most Muslims are treated unfairly in the United States because of their religion.

Forty-one percent (41%) still believe most Muslims around the world view the United States as an enemy. Voters are evenly divided over whether most Americans view Muslims worldwide as an enemy.

Voter perceptions of U.S.-Islamic relations continue to deteriorate since Obama’s highly publicized speech in Cairo, Egypt five years ago reaching out to the Islamic world. Many blame recent U.S. policies for that. Thirty-five percent (35%) now believe the war in Afghanistan has actually increased the threat of radical Islamic terrorism against this country versus 28% who think it has reduced that threat instead.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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