American Muslims concerned about their place in society, extremism

Remigio Civitarese
Luglio 27, 2017

"Overall, Muslims in the United States perceive a lot of discrimination against their religious group, are leery of President Donald Trump and think their fellow Americans do not see Islam as part of mainstream US society", the study's authors wrote.

The Pew Research Center released a new survey on Wednesday detailing how Muslim Americans perceive discrimination against their community and their place in American society.

Overall, nearly half of Muslim Americans ― 48 percent ― say they have experienced at least one of these forms of discrimination over the past 12 months. Previous research by Pew found that only 35 percent of white evangelicals say they have a personal connection to a Muslim, compared to about 40 percent of mainline Protestants and Catholics, 50 percent of unaffiliated Americans, and 73 percent of Jews. Then, 64% of Muslim-Americans told Pew researchers that Obama was friendly toward Muslims and more than half were satisfied with the direction of the country.

Pew found that Muslim Americans are just as concerned as Americans at large about extremism in the name of Islam in the United States (71% vs. 70%) and around the world (82% vs. 83%).

30 percent said in recent years, being Muslim has gotten more hard, while 44 percent said it hasn't change, and only 3 percent said it's easier.

In the last decade, an increasing percentage of Muslims say they have experienced support from others because they are Muslim - 49 percent in the most recent survey, up from 37 percent in 2011 and 32 percent in 2007.

The survey interviews were conducted in English, as well as Arabic, Farsi and Urdu, between January 23 and May 2, 2017.

Additionally, 68 percent said Trump caused them feel generally anxious, with another 45 percent reporting that he makes them feel angry. Almost three in four Muslims say Trump is "unfriendly" toward members of their faith, and almost two-thirds are dissatisfied with the direction of the country.

"In a sense, with rising Islamophobia has come more support from the general public, so I think that's one of the reasons why Muslim Americans feel more comfortable in their place in the USA today", said Amaney A. Jamal, a Princeton University professor of politics who served as an adviser on the survey.

Michael Urton, associate director of the Coalition of Ministries to Muslims in North America (COMMA Network), said he has seen meaningful relationships built on that common ground between evangelicals and the Muslim families in the Chicago suburbs where he lives. A lot of them considered the president unfriendly toward Muslims.

The lengthy survey is broken down into several sections covering everything from political views and religious beliefs, to the American Muslim's experience navigating through the Trump era so far.

Despite repeated suggestions from Trump that Muslims sympathize with others of their faith who resort to terror, the survey finds overwhelmingly negative views among American Muslims toward Islamic extremism, with more than four in five describing it as a threat to the world. They also believe the American public does not consider Islam a part of the mainstream society. This year, more than half (52%) said society should accept homosexuality - up from 27% in 2007.

But optimism remains. The vast majority of Muslim Americans are proud of their religious and national identity.

After a Muslim-American shot and killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando a year ago, American Muslims were forced to come to terms with gays and lesbians in their mosques and families, prompting conversations about homosexuality and Islamic teachings, said Zareena Grewal, who studies the American Muslim experience at Yale University.

One in 10 members of the community say people assuming Muslims are terrorists is the top challenge facing their community, according to the survey.

American Muslims were also slightly more likely to identify as politically liberal (30% now vs. 24% in 2007).

Three-quarters (75%) of Muslim respondents, for example, say there is "a lot" of discrimination against Muslims in the U.S.

76 percent say targeting or killing civilians is never justified.

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