Released by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Tuesday, the survey found that half of all Americans believe Islam encourages the oppression of women.


It also found around one in three Americans thinks of negative words such as "war", "hatred" and "terrorists" when they hear the word "Muslim".


CAIR said the poll canvassed 1000 Americans nationwide and was conducted by an independent research company.


The research was designed to understand what Americans think about Muslims and seek ways to combat Islamophobia.


CAIR spokeswoman Rabia Ahmad told Aljazeera.net that America's seven million Muslims have suffered a "backlash" since the September 11 attacks, which were blamed on Usama bin Ladin's al-Qaida.

 

Media bias?

 

"I think the media has heavily influenced their views," she said.

 

"If all you are seeing is beheadings and suicide bombings and none of the positive things that Muslims are doing in the world, then you are likely to have a negative image of Muslims."


"If all you are seeing is beheadings and suicide bombings and none of the positive things that Muslims are doing in the world, then you are likely to have a negative image of Muslims"

Rabia Ahmad,
CAIR

The Muslim organisation's poll found that CNN was Americans' most trusted news source.

 

Nevertheless, Islamic scholars and leaders have consistently denied common anti-Muslim prejudices, arguing that Islam preaches peace, tolerance and the equality of the sexes.

 

And CAIR’s Ahmad said there is a perception among Muslims that leading US politicians, including President George Bush, just pay lip service to their respect for Islam and Muslims.

 

"The reality is that actions speak louder than words and despite their rhetoric a lot of politicians are failing to condemn anti-Muslim statements by their own parties or followers."

 

Stereotypes

 

The CAIR survey found that those who had the most negative attitudes towards Muslims tend to be male, white, less educated, and Republicans.

On the other hand, it revealed those with higher education and who personally know Muslims have a more positive attitude towards them.


American Muslims have suffered
a backlash since September 11

And most Americans believe that "terrorists" are misusing the teachings of Islam.

 

However, Ahmad said Muslims need to do more to correct negative stereotypes.

 

"American Muslims have failed to connect enough with the communities they live in and can be guilty of having stereotypes themselves," she said.

 

"They need to do more outreach because the poll proves that the more Americans get to know Muslims the less likely they are to hold anti-Muslim opinions."