More than half Americans fear rise of Muslim extremism

New York, Nov 20 ( More than half of Americans fear the rise of Islamic extremism, says a survey taken after the shooting at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas earlier this month.

In the worst-ever shooting at any US army base, Major Nidal Malik Hassan, an army psychiatrist, allegedly mowed down 12 fellow soldiers and a civilian when he fired on his comrades to protest his upcoming posting to the war zone.

The shooting by the Muslim soldier occurred just two months after two Muslims were arrested for bomb-making plot, raising fears of a backlash against the community in the US.

There are estimated to be more than five million Muslims in the US. According to the survey by the independent Pew Research Center done after the November 5 shooting, 52 percent Americans think that Islamic extremism is rising in the US.

In a similar survey by the center in 2007, only 46 Americans had expressed their concern over Muslim extremism in the country. The survey says 49 percent Americans today feel” very concerned” about Islamic extremism as against 48 percent in 2007. But only 29 percent today say they are “somewhat concerned” as against 33 percent in 2007.

According to the Pew Research Center, the public followed the reports on the army base shooting closely as well as the ongoing investigation. People’s reaction varied with their political affiliation. Compared to 65 percent Republicans, only 44 percent Democrats said that they are concerned about the rising extremism.

But only 36 percent young Americans said Islamic extremism was rising, as against 60-65 percent old people.

Public concerns about the rise of Islamic extremism around the world largely mirror levels measured in April 2007, according to the survey. The phone survey was conducted between November 12 and November 15 and involved 1,003 Americans.