How Much Discrimination Do Muslims Face in America?

Source: The Atlantic


Whatever Muslims may be in Trump’s America, they’re not invisible. Everyone—the president, pundits, pollsters—keeps talking about the religious minority group, which makes up roughly 1 percent of the country’s population. According to new data from the Pew Research Center, the intense political focus on Islam has yielded a sort of dual life for American Muslims.

On one hand, many Americans are suspicious of their beliefs and motives, and Muslims perceive widespread hostility toward their faith. At the same time, experiences of discrimination haven’t necessarily changed that much, and many other Americans have reached out to affirm their Muslim neighbors. President Trump may have said he wants to ban Muslims from entering America, but it would be impossible to take the America out of Muslims: Despite heightened anxiety around their place in U.S. culture, their experiences largely mirror those of other religious groups.


American Muslims are notoriously difficult to poll. Roughly 58 percent were born abroad, and another 18 percent have at least one immigrant parent. Many of them aren’t proficient enough in English to complete a lengthy survey, and the population is religiously and racially diverse. Muslims are also geographically spread out: Unlike, say, Catholics, their communities are not centrally organized. Despite these challenges, Pew completed 1,001 telephone interviews between January and April, translating their survey into Arabic, Farsi, and Urdu to facilitate participation by non-native English speakers. While the sample is relatively small, it offers a rough look at a demographic group that is hard to track.

The researchers found that Muslims perceive significant bias against them. Seventy-five percent of respondents said there’s “a lot” of discrimination against Muslims in the U.S. Sixty percent of Muslims—and 68 percent of Muslim women—said media coverage of Muslims is unfair. And when respondents were asked about the most important problems facing U.S. Muslims today, the most popular answers included “discrimination, racism, [and] prejudice,” “Muslims [being] viewed as terrorists,” and “Trump’s attitudes [and] policies toward Muslims.” In general, American Muslims are not fans of the president. Three-quarters of the respondents said Trump is “unfriendly” toward Muslims in the U.S., and 65 percent disapprove of what he’s doing in office—slightly less than the percentage of Muslims who disapproved of George W. Bush on a 2007 version of this survey.

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