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Circling back to Obama’s speech for a moment, one number gave us pause. In his speech in Cairo Thursday, the President referred to “7 million American Muslims in our country…”
Not quite, at least according to various independent studies of Muslim populations in the U.S. in recent years. The most recent survey, a 2007 report on Muslim Americans by the Pew Research Center, estimates a total Muslim population in the U.S. of 2.35 million (including children)–about 0.6 percent of the total U.S. population.
Other surveys come up with similar numbers. The General Social Survey, generally regarded as one of the most reliable barometers of social trends in the U.S., asks people their religion. Its estimate is 1.2 million adult Muslim Americans nationwide. And the 2001 American Religious Identification survey found the proportion of the adult population who identify themselves as Muslims to be 0.5 percent.
So where did the 7 million number come from? We’ve queried the White House but haven’t heard back from anyone yet. However, the Muslim community has long maintained that those survey results are much too low and that the total population of Muslim Americans, extrapolated from mosque members, is six million to seven million.