Worry and hope in the era of Trump
Muslims see president as unfriendly, but many find support from compatriots.
WASHINGTON — What has life been like for Muslims in the U.S. since Donald Trump became president? A wide-ranging new survey highlights growing worries within the community, but also points to a fundamental faith in the American dream.
Almost three-quarters of American Muslims surveyed — 74% — see Trump as unfriendly toward them, but nearly half also say that nonMuslims in their lives — neighbors, colleagues and strangers — have stepped up and offered support and encouragement in recent months, according to the Pew Research Center survey.
One respondent, identified as a Muslim woman under 30, told the Pew researchers that she had experienced “rude comments straight to my face” when wearing a hijab in public. But she added: “I’ve also had people say really nice things about my hijab, or say it’s beautiful.”
While more than 6 in 10 U.S. Muslims say they believe Islam is still not viewed by others as part of the country’s mainstream, overwhelming numbers said they are proud to be both Americans and Muslims, and a large majority sees no clash between Islam and democracy, according to Pew. The survey, released Wednesday, was the first of its kind conducted by the organization since President Trump took office.
During his campaign and his first six months in the Oval Office, Trump and his administration have done much to cast a harsh spotlight on Muslims, sometimes portraying the religion itself as a threat. A watered-down version of the sweeping travel ban decreed by Trump almost immediately upon taking office has taken partial effect, targeting six Muslim-majority countries, and hate crimes, particularly against those displaying overt signs of their Muslim faith, have been on the rise.
Many have internalized larger political concerns, reporting an increased sense of personal anxiety. “Far more Muslims express negative emotions associated with Trump than positive ones,” the Pew researchers wrote.
In the 2016 presidential election, U.S. Muslims — many of whom were put off by rhetoric such as Trump’s call for a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslims entering the country, or offended by being tarred by association with terrorist attacks worldwide — voted for Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, by a nearly 4-1 margin.
Despite feelings of not being fully accepted in the United States, 70% of the Muslims surveyed exand pressed an enduring belief that hard work can lead to success in this country. That figure has remained largely consistent since a similar Pew survey in 2007.
Nearly half of the Muslims surveyed — 48% — said they had faced some form of discrimination in the last year, coinciding with Trump’s candidacy, such as name-calling or threats. But the levels increase substantially among respondents who said their mode of dress or other visible characteristics identified them as devout Muslims, such as women who wear head coverings or men who wear long beards and traditional dress. Among that group, 64% said they had faced hostility or discrimination.
There were also signs of a more accepting attitude among Muslims regarding U.S. social mores. In the 2007 Pew survey, 61% of Muslims disapproved of same-sex relationships; now a slight majority — 52% — say that homosexuality should be accepted by society.
Muslims make up about 1% of the U.S. population, or about 3.35 million people, by the researchers’ estimate, they are one of the fastest-growing religious minorities, increasing by about 100,000 per year. The largest numbers of American Muslims have roots in the Indian subcontinent — Pakistan, India and Bangladesh — with smaller numbers coming from the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.
Despite repeated suggestions from Trump that Muslims sympathize with others of their faith who resort to terrorism, the survey finds overwhelmingly negative views among American Muslims toward Islamic extremism, with more than 4 in 5 describing it as a threat to the world.
But researchers also found mistrust of domestic U.S. law enforcement, with about 30% saying that authorities sometimes tricked those suspected of terrorism-related activity, or arrested them by mistake.
The survey of 1,001 adults was conducted between Jan. 23 and May 2, using both landline and mobile phones and posing questions in English, Arabic, Farsi and Urdu. The margin of error was plus or minus 5.8 percentage points, the researchers said.
U.S. MUSLIMS who wear head scarves were more likely to experience discrimination, but some said others complimented their hijabs, a new Pew survey found.