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How many Muslims? Latest U.S. count is around 3.5 million, well below some claims

Posted: Friday, October 11, 2002

WASHINGTON (AP) -- There are perhaps 3.5 million Muslims in the United States, according to the latest estimate from a Muslim researcher. That's fewer than other efforts to count the population have found.

Mohamed Nimer, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, presents his figure in ''The North American Muslim Resource Guide,'' the first comprehensive listing and analysis of all types of Muslim organizations in the United States and Canada.

Nimer says the ''minimum'' number of Muslims in the United States is between 2,560,000 and 4,390,000, making 3.5 million a rough average.

He bases that figure on data for immigrants (factoring in that many people from Islamic lands or with Arabic surnames are Christian), plus projections for U.S.-born Muslims from religious identifications on high school SAT test questionnaires.

A survey cosponsored last year by Nimer's council, ''The Mosque in America,'' estimated there are 6 million to 7 million U.S. Muslims, among them 2 million who attend mosque during the major religious festivals.

Other recent estimates have ranged from as few as 1.1 million -- a City University of New York study counting only adults -- to 4.1 million (''World Christian Encyclopedia'').

The ''Resource Guide'' lists 1,118 U.S. mosques and Islamic centers, located in every state except Vermont, with 174 in Canada. ''The Mosque in America'' reported 1,209 U.S. mosques.

Nimer says most Muslim groups are two decades old or less and ''continue to struggle'' in establishing themselves.

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