Amid harassment, Muslims also find greater support from fellow Americans, survey finds

American Muslims report they have felt greater compassion from non-Muslims and continue to believe that hard work could lead to a successful life in the United States, according to a new Pew Research Center report.

Craig Ruttle/AP
Marchers carry the national flags of Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Egypt, and the United States during the Muslim Day Parade in New York City on Sept. 25, 2016.

US Muslims say they have experienced widespread suspicion about their faith in the first months of the Trump presidency, but also have received more support from individual Americans, and remain hopeful they can eventually be fully accepted in American society, a new survey finds.

Nearly 75 percent of US Muslims view President Trump as unfriendly to them, according to a Pew Research Center report released Wednesday, and 62 percent say Americans do not view Islam as part of the mainstream after a presidential election that saw a surge in hostility toward Muslims and immigrants.

At the same time, nearly half of Muslims said they had received expressions of encouragement from non-Muslims in the past year, an increase over past polls. And Muslims remain optimistic about their future – 70 percent believe hard work can bring success in America, a figure largely unchanged for a decade.

"There's a sense among the American Muslim population that others are beginning to understand them and beginning to sympathize with them," said Amaney Jamal, a Princeton University political scientist and adviser to Pew researchers. Prejudice against Muslims has "pushed the average American to say, 'This is really not fair. I'm going to knock on my neighbor's door to see if they're all right,' " Ms. Jamal said.

The Pew survey is its third on American Muslims since 2007, and its first since Mr. Trump took office Jan. 20. He promised to fight terrorism through "extreme vetting" of refugees and had a plan to temporarily ban travelers from six Muslim-majority countries.

The latest poll of 1,001 adults was conducted by phone, both landline and cellphones, between Jan. 23 and May 2, in English, Arabic, Farsi, and Urdu, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.8 percentage points.

The last several months have seen an uptick in reports of anti-Muslim harassment, including arson and vandalism at mosques and bullying at schools. In the Pew survey, nearly half of US Muslims say they have faced some discrimination in the last year, such as being treated with distrust, threatened, or called an offensive name. That percentage is only a slight increase over previous surveys.

However, the figure is much higher for respondents who said they were more visibly identified as Muslim, for example by a head covering, or hijab, for women. Of those with a more distinct Muslim identity, 64 percent said they had recently faced some type of discrimination.

Still, the survey found evidence of a growing sense of Muslim belonging in the United States. Nearly 90 percent said they were proud be both Muslim and American and nearly two-thirds said there was no conflict between Islam and democracy.

A larger share of American Muslims told Pew they had registered to vote and actually voted. Up to 44 percent of Muslims eligible to vote cast ballots in last year's presidential election, compared to 37 percent in 2007. Those numbers on Muslim voting are compared to 60 percent of eligible voters overall who cast ballots in 2016.

American Muslim leaders, alarmed by anti-Muslim rhetoric in the campaign, made an unprecedented push to register voters in mosques and at community events. Turnout overall was higher after the highly contested 2016 campaign.

Muslims overwhelmingly backed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who drew 78 percent of their vote compared to 8 percent for Trump.

Following a trend found in other American faith groups, a slight majority of US Muslims now accept homosexuality, a dramatic reversal from a decade ago when 61 percent said same-sex relationships should be discouraged.

Pew researchers estimate the number of US Muslims has been growing by 100,000 per year, reaching 3.35 million, or 1 percent of the American population. Just over half of US Muslims identify as Sunni, while 16 percent say they are Shiite. Nearly 6 in 10 adult American Muslims were born outside the US.

The largest share of immigrants come from South Asian countries such as Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, while others have come from Iraq, Iran, sub-Saharan Africa, and Europe. American-born blacks comprise about 13 percent of all Muslims in the US, but their share is shrinking. Overall, 8 in 10 are US citizens, according to the survey.

Eight in 10 American Muslims said they were concerned about Islamic extremism, and more than 70 percent said they were very or somewhat concerned about Islamic extremism in the US. However, 3 of 10 said that most of those arrested recently on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack had been tricked by law enforcement authorities and did not represent a real threat.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.