How Trump changed Americans’ view of Islam – for the better

Source: The Washington Post

By Shibley Telhami

President Trump is expected to announce a ban on Muslim immigrants into the United States. However, polls conducted in the last year show that, despite his electoral success, Trump’s views on Islam and Muslims do not have wide support among the American public.

Americans’ opposition to accepting refugees from Middle East conflicts have been highly exaggerated. As I noted last June, “even in the middle of a U.S. presidential campaign that has been breathtaking in its exaggerations and racism, with devastating terrorism providing fuel, 59 percent of Americans say they are ready to accept Middle East conflict refugees” assuming they are screened for security. As usual, Americans were deeply divided along partisan lines on this issue.

Four polls during the election year revealed extraordinary, progressive and unexpected shifts that cannot be explained by events during that year. Attitudes toward “Muslim people” became progressively more favorable from 53 percent in November 2015 to 70 percent in October 2016.

Even attitudes toward Islam itself (generally more unfavorable than attitudes toward Muslims) showed significant improvement: favorable attitudes went from 37 percent in November 2015 to 49 percent in October 2016, reaching the highest favorable level since 9/11.

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