Duke University News Tip: Muslim-American Values Not Reflected in Fort Hood Shooting

Posted on November 6, 2009


Duke University Office of News & Communications

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, Nov. 6, 2009

CONTACT: Camille Jackson
(919) 681-8052


Note to editors: Jen’nan Read can be reached for additional comment until 7 p.m. Friday at (949) 266-4249.

Thursday’s deadly shooting at Fort Hood in Texas “should not be viewed as reflective of the Muslim-American population, nor do these actions represent Muslim-American values,” says a Duke University sociologist who studies the political integration and activity of U.S. Muslims.

The accused gunman has been identified as Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a Muslim American from the Washington, D.C., area. Jen’nan Read, an associate professor of sociology and global health at Duke, says she cannot speculate what led the gunman to open fire on Thursday.

“But I am not surprised that leaders of the Muslim-American community are horrified and saddened by what happened. That’s because Muslim-Americans have similar values and beliefs as other Americans,” said Read, the author of “Culture, Class and Work Among Arab-American Women” (LFB Scholarly Publishing, 2004).

A Carnegie scholar studying the economic, political and cultural integration of Muslim and Arab Americans, Read says Muslims Americans are highly diverse and politically integrated, and in step with the rest of the American public on today’s most divisive political issues.

Read finds the majority of both Muslim Americans and the general public oppose gay marriage and favor increased federal funding for the needy. According to her research, Muslim Americans are slightly more conservative than the American public with regard to abortion and are generally “diverse, well-integrated, and largely mainstream in their attitudes, values and behaviors.”

Read says Muslim Americans are not uniformly religious and devout. Like Christians, Jews and members of other faith groups, Muslims represent widely varying levels of religious devotion, mosque attendance and frequency of regular prayer.

On average, Muslim Americans tend to be highly educated, politically conscious and fluent in English. On average, this group shares similar socio-economic characteristics with the general U.S. population in terms of education, income and employment: one-fourth has a bachelor’s degree or higher; one-fourth lives in households of $75,000 or more; the majority are employed.

Yet, despite the similarities between Muslim Americans and the general public, “we can’t deny that the Muslim-American experience, particularly since 9/11, has been ‘exceptional’ in a country marked by a declining salience of religious boundaries and increasing acceptance of religious difference,” Read said. “Muslim Americans have been largely excluded from this ecumenical trend.”
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Note to broadcast editors: Duke provides an on-campus satellite uplink facility for live or pre-recorded television interviews. We are also equipped with ISDN connectivity for radio interviews. Broadcast reporters should contact Scott Wells at (919) 660-1741 or James Todd at (919) 681-8061 to arrange an interview before 7 p.m. Friday. Previous video of Read can be viewed at http://news.duke.edu/2009/09/read.html