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Most US Muslims believe Trump not a friend, says new survey

Many felt discriminated against a lot and believe most Americans don’t consider them a part of the mainstream. And being Muslim remains hard in America.

world Updated: Jul 27, 2017 16:54 IST
Yashwant Raj
A large number of the Pew survey participants said they have felt discriminated against a lot and believe most Americans don’t consider Muslim community a part of the mainstream.
A large number of the Pew survey participants said they have felt discriminated against a lot and believe most Americans don’t consider Muslim community a part of the mainstream.(REUTERS)

Most Muslim Americans believe President Donald Trump is not a friend of the community and worry on account of him and fear that the country was going in the wrong direction, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center.

A large number of them said they have felt discriminated against a lot and believe most Americans don’t consider them a part of the mainstream. And being Muslim remains hard in America, but not any harder than it’s been in the last decade.

The survey also found a disturbingly high level of distrust Americans felt for Muslims — though a majority (54%) of them said there was little or no support for extremism among Muslim Americans, 46% felt there was between “fair amount” and “great deal” of support for extremism in the community, something that could explain the harsh scrutiny Muslims here have felt after every terrorist attack.

Candidate Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States temporarily came in the immediate aftermath of the December 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, in which a Pakistani-origin couple gunned down 14 people at an office holiday party.

Trump toned down that extreme proposal in the face of criticism, but not the rhetoric, which he carried through the election, engaging in a cringe-worthy public spat with parents of a fallen Pakistani Muslim American US soldier. And with within few days of taking office, he ordered a ban on the entry of travellers from seven Muslim-majority nations, which he subsequently brought down to six.

Trump’s first six months in office also witnessed a notable spike in hate crimes against the Muslim American community — as well as other religious and ethnic minorities. The Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a leading advocacy body for the community, said in a report in early July that anti-Muslim hate crimes went up by 91% over the corresponding period in 2016.

And, it warned, “If acts of bias impacting the American Muslim community continue as they have been, 2017 could be one of the worst years ever for such incidents.”

Not surprising then that a staggering 74% of Muslim in the Pew survey said they believed the president was unfriendly towards the community and 68% said they felt worried on account of him and 48% felt angered by him.

Their feelings about the president were not, however, much different from that of the rest of the country, the survey pointed out: “Trump evokes similar levels of worry (60%) and anger (39%) among the general public as he does among Muslims.”

Muslim Americans had felt far better and more hopeful about their prospects and that of the country at large under the presidency of Barack Obama, with most of them saying America was headed in the right direction in 2011, in a similar but last such survey of the community by Pew.

According to Pew, there are about 3.3 million Muslims in America — compared to 5.3 million Jewish people — which is about the same as Indian Americans.

Muslim American respondents of the survey traced their origins to 75 countries, and varied widely in their religious affiliations and observances — 55% of them identified themselves as Sunnis, 16% as Shia and 14% as “just Muslim”.