By Lauren Markoe
Religion News Service
WASHINGTON (RNS) As Congressional hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims get underway, a political science professor says research shows that affiliation with a mosque increases Muslims' civic engagement.
"The more religious American Muslims happen to be, the more they participate in American politics," said Karam Dana, who teaches at Tufts University.
Dana and colleague Matt A. Barreto in 2008 completed the largest-ever survey of American Muslims, asking them, among other questions, whether Islam and the American political system are compatible.
Of those Muslims who do not regularly go to a mosque, 77 percent answered "yes," Dana said. Among those who are regularly involved in a mosque, that figure rose to 95 percent.
These findings appear to contradict assumptions underpinning the controversial hearings that Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y, will convene Thursday (March 10) as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Dana said.
Dana noted that King in 2004 stated that the vast majority of American mosques were controlled by Islamic extremists and amounted to "an enemy living amongst us," and that King in 2007 bemoaned the number of mosques in the nation because they bred "homegrown" terrorists.
Like other religious institutions in the United States, mosques have actually helped members assimilate into and support American democracy, Dana said.
"Decades of scholarship on religious institutions, be they churches or synagogues, have shown that they foster participation in the political system," said Dana. "We believe that mosques are no different."