US Mus­lims see friendly neigh­bors, foe in White House

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

US Mus­lims say they have ex­pe­ri­enced wide­spread sus­pi­cion about their faith in the first months of Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­dency, but also have re­ceived more sup­port from in­di­vid­ual Amer­i­cans, and re­main hope­ful they can even­tu­ally be fully ac­cepted in Amer­i­can so­ci­ety, a new sur­vey finds. Nearly three-quar­ters of US Mus­lims view Trump as un­friendly to them, ac­cord­ing to a Pew Re­search Cen­ter re­port re­leased Wed­nes­day. Sixty-two per­cent say Amer­i­cans do not view Is­lam as part of the main­stream af­ter a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion that saw a surge in hos­til­ity to­ward Mus­lims and im­mi­grants.

At the same time, nearly half of Mus­lims said they had re­ceived ex­pres­sions of en­cour­age­ment from non-Mus­lims in the past year, an in­crease over past polls. And Mus­lims re­main op­ti­mistic about their fu­ture. Seventy per­cent be­lieve hard work can bring suc­cess in Amer­ica, a fig­ure largely un­changed for a decade.

“There’s a sense among the Amer­i­can Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion that oth­ers are be­gin­ning to un­der­stand them and be­gin­ning to sym­pa­thize with them,’” said Amaney Ja­mal, a Prince­ton Univer­sity po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist and ad­viser to Pew re­searchers. Prej­u­dice against Mus­lims has “pushed the av­er­age Amer­i­can to say, ‘This is re­ally not fair. I’m go­ing to knock on my neigh­bor’s door to see if they’re all right,” Ja­mal said.

The Pew sur­vey is its third on Amer­i­can Mus­lims since 2007, and its first since Trump took of­fice Jan. 20. He promised to fight ter­ror­ism through “ex­treme vet­ting” of refugees and had a plan to tem­po­rar­ily ban trav­el­ers from six Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries. The lat­est poll of 1,001 adults was con­ducted by phone, both land­line and cell­phones, be­tween Jan. 23 and May 2, in English, Ara­bic, Farsi and Urdu, and has a mar­gin of er­ror of plus or mi­nus 5.8 per­cent­age points.

The last sev­eral months have seen an uptick in re­ports of anti-Mus­lim ha­rass­ment, in­clud­ing arson and van­dal­ism at mosques and bul­ly­ing at schools. In the Pew sur­vey, nearly half of US Mus­lims say they have faced some dis­crim­i­na­tion in the last year, such as be­ing treated with dis­trust, threat­ened or called an of­fen­sive name. That per­cent­age is only a slight in­crease over pre­vi­ous sur­veys.

How­ever, the fig­ure is much higher for re­spon­dents who said they were more vis­i­bly iden­ti­fied as Mus­lim, for ex­am­ple by a head cov­er­ing, or hi­jab, for women. Six­ty­four per­cent of those with a more dis­tinct Mus­lim iden­tity said they had re­cently faced some type of dis­crim­i­na­tion. Still, the sur­vey found ev­i­dence of a grow­ing sense of Mus­lim be­long­ing in the United States. Eighty-nine per­cent said they were proud be both Mus­lim and Amer­i­can and nearly two-thirds said there was no con­flict be­tween Is­lam and democ­racy.

A larger share of Amer­i­can Mus­lims told Pew they had reg­is­tered to vote and ac­tu­ally voted. Forty-four per­cent of Mus­lims el­i­gi­ble to vote cast bal­lots in last year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, com­pared to 37 per­cent in 2007. Those num­bers on Mus­lim vot­ing are com­pared to 60 per­cent of el­i­gi­ble vot­ers over­all who cast bal­lots in 2016.”

Amer­i­can Mus­lim lead­ers, alarmed by anti-Mus­lim rhetoric in the cam­paign, made an un­prece­dented push to reg­is­ter vot­ers in mosques and at com­mu­nity events. Turnout over­all was higher af­ter the highly con­tested 2016 cam­paign. Mus­lims over­whelm­ingly backed Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton, who drew 78 per­cent of their vote com­pared to 8 per­cent for Trump.

Fol­low­ing a trend found in other Amer­i­can faith groups, a slight ma­jor­ity of US Mus­lims now ac­cept ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, a dra­matic re­ver­sal from a decade ago when 61 per­cent said same-sex re­la­tion­ships should be dis­cour­aged. Pew re­searchers es­ti­mate the num­ber of US Mus­lims has been grow­ing by 100,000 per year, reach­ing 3.35 mil­lion, or 1 per­cent of the Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tion. Just over half of U.S. Mus­lims iden­tify as Sunni, while 16 per­cent say they are Shi­ite. Nearly six in 10 adult Amer­i­can Mus­lims were born out­side the US.

The largest share of im­mi­grants come from South Asian coun­tries such as Pak­istan, In­dia and Bangladesh, while oth­ers have come from Iraq, Iran, sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa and Europe. Amer­i­can-born blacks com­prise about 13 per­cent of all Mus­lims in Amer­ica, but their share is shrink­ing. Over­all, eight in 10 are US cit­i­zens, ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey.

Eight in 10 Amer­i­can Mus­lims said they were con­cerned about Is­lamic ex­trem­ism, and more than 70 per­cent said they were very or some­what con­cerned about Is­lamic ex­trem­ism in the US. How­ever, three of 10 said that most of those ar­rested re­cently on sus­pi­cion of plan­ning a ter­ror­ist at­tack had been tricked by law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties and did not rep­re­sent a real threat. — AP

NEW YORK: In this Sun­day, Sept 25 2016, photo, marchers carry the na­tional flags of Pak­istan, top left, Le­banon, bot­tom left, Iran, top cen­ter, Egypt, bot­tom cen­ter and the Amer­i­can flag, right, dur­ing the Mus­lim Day Pa­rade on Madi­son Av­enue. —AP

Voter base in­creases

MADRID: This photo combo made from im­age grabs of a video feed shows Span­ish Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy declar­ing as a wit­ness in a ma­jor graft trial in­volv­ing mem­bers of his con­ser­va­tive Pop­u­lar Party at Spain’s High Court. —AFP

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