A new report released Wednesday July 26 by PEW Research Center shows that many Muslims feel targeted in the United States. The research was conducted from January 23 to May 2 over phone and included 1,001 respondents, all Muslim American adults. 75% of the respondents believe Muslims are discriminated against in the United States. 74% of respondents believe that Donald Trump is unfriendly towards Muslims. 68% of respondents are worried about Donald Trump. In their report, the PEW Research Center wrote that many respondents “perceive a lot of discrimination against their religious group, are leery of Trump and think their fellow Americans do not see Islam as part of mainstream US society.”
An estimated 3.35 million Muslims live in the United States in 2017, nearly a million people higher than ten years ago. Last week, the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) published a report that found a 91% increase in anti-Muslim violence. The results of the new PEW Research Center survey are consistent with these findings. A third of the respondents reported being treated with suspicion in public. 1 in 5 respondents reported seeing anti-Muslim graffiti and signs in their neighbourhood within the last year. 6% of the respondents reported being physically threatened or attacked. One respondent explained her experience with being called a terrorist on a public bus. “No one came to my defence. If you cover your face, people assume you are dangerous. I don’t wear the niqab any more.”
These results are distressing but not at all surprising. President Donald Trump continues to use dangerous rhetoric that vilifies Muslim Americans and empowers others to do the same. Anti-Muslim activists such as Pamela Geller and Milo Yiannopolus claim Muslims are trying to replace the United States constitution with Sharia law. In May 2017, 3 men were stabbed trying to protect Muslim girls from a harasser. The Supreme Court has allowed Trump’s temporary ban on people from Muslim countries. Parents continue to fight to remove chapters on Islam from their children’s curriculum in schools. Notable white supremacists such as Jeff Sessions and Steve Bannon have powerful positions in the Trump administration. Despite all of the rhetoric, this hate, like most hate, is baseless. These fears are based on myths. The PEW Research Center found that 76% of the respondents found the killing of civilians, terrorism, unjustifiable. Meanwhile, only 59% of the general population found the killing of civilians unjustifiable.
The report though did offer some optimism. Despite the hate crimes, the bigotry, and the fear, 89% of respondents reported being proud of being both Muslim and American. 70% of respondents believed in the “American Dream” and believed that hard work will help them achieve and succeed in the United States. Despite efforts by the President and his supporters to make Muslims feel unwelcome, the respondents show that they still see a future in the country. However, the expansion of discrimination in the United States is unacceptable.
Non-Muslims in the United States must support Muslims by standing against Islamaphobia. This includes protesting dangerous legislation that targets Muslims and educating themselves and others against the myths spread by Trump and his followers. This survey shows the reality of the situation in the United States and it is up to us to find a solution to make sure everyone feels safe and accepted in the United States.