Home > Spotlight Analysis > Fifteen Years after 9/11, Americans More Concerned About Terrorism, But Reject Muslim Bans
Fifteen Years after 9/11, Americans More Concerned About Terrorism, But Reject Muslim Bans
Daniel Cox, Ph.D., Joanna Piacenza,
09.01.2016

This month marks the 15th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The attacks—the deadliest on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor—lead to increasing concerns about the issue of terrorism in the United States. However, until recently, most Americans did not believe they or their family were at risk of being victims of terrorism. According to a recent PRRI survey, that is no longer the case.

To understand the public’s stance on terrorism today, we took a look at findings from the recent PRRI/Brookings survey report. While concerns about terrorism have risen and most Americans hold reservations about Islam’s compatibility with U.S. values, majorities reject bans on Muslims and Syrian refugees.

Concerns About Terrorism Are Up

Concerns about terrorism have increased significantly in just the last couple years. A slim majority (51 percent) of Americans report feeling at least somewhat worried that they or a member of their family will become a victim of terrorism. That’s up from 33 percent in late 2014.

Republicans (62 percent) and Trump primary supporters (65 percent) are more likely to express concern about terrorism, while only 44 percent of Democrats are at least somewhat worried they or someone in their family will be a terrorism victim.

Americans are also more likely to say that terrorism is a priority to them personally. Nearly seven in ten (69 percent) say that terrorism is a critical issue, substantially more than cite jobs and unemployment as a critical concern (55 percent).

Most See Islam “At Odds” with American Culture

Al-Qaeda and ISIS’ claim to be Islamic has, in part, led to increased concern over Muslim people in the country, and Americans are more likely than not to say American and Islam’s values do not align. Most (57 percent) Americans agree that the values of Islam are at odds with those of the U.S., while 40 percent disagree.

However, there are notable partisan differences: 79 percent of Republicans say that Islam is not consistent with American values, while about half as many (42 percent) Democrats agree. A majority (55 percent) Democrats do not believe the values of Islam are inconsistent with American values and way of life.

But Most Americans Reject Anti-Muslim Protectionist Policies

Concerns about the compatibility of Islam and American values do not translate into support for exclusionary and discriminatory policies, as the public largely opposes policies that single out Muslims and Syrian refugees. A majority (58 percent) of Americans—including 74 percent Democrats, and 59 percent of independents—oppose temporarily banning Muslims from other countries from coming to the U.S., while roughly two-thirds (64 percent) of Republicans favor this proposal. A similar number of Americans (55 percent) also oppose laws that would prevent Syrian refugees from entering the country.

For more, see the PRRI/Brookings immigration survey report.