Thursday, March 23, 2017

New Report Looks at Lives of Muslims in the Trump Era

Donald Trump's anti-Muslim efforts -- from his 2015 call for a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the U.S. to his executive orders banning entry to persons from several majority-Muslim countries -- have emboldened anti-Muslim activists and fueled anti-Muslim sentiments in the U.S. Similar sentiments among current and former members of his administration, as well as organizations that support him and his policies, have also shocked onlookers. Now, a new report is shedding light on the pernicious effect these developments have had on American Muslim communities.

According to Reuters, the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding just released the results of a national survey of American Muslims. American Muslim Poll 2017: Muslims at the Crossroads presents the results of a January 2017 study of 1,249 respondents residing in the U.S., including 800 Muslims. While the report explores Muslim experiences and attitudes in a variety of areas, such as race issues, community involvement, and religiosity, the survey's findings regarding discrimination and safety are what concern me.

In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, American Muslims report higher rates of discrimination and bullying and feel greater anxieties over their safety than the general population. The statistics presented in the report deserve attention.

  • Muslim respondents were four times as likely as members of the general population to report that their children had been bullied. Two-thirds of bullying incidents involved other students, 6% involved teachers or school officials, and 19% involved both students and teachers or school officials.

  • 36% of Muslims reported experiencing discrimination on the basis of religion "occasionally" or "regularly". Muslim women and Muslims of Asian or Arab ancestry were more likely to report occasional or regular discrimination.

  • 30% of Muslims reported being stopped by U.S. border officials for additional questioning upon returning from international travel, compared to 13% of Jews, 11% of Catholics, 11% of Protestants, 19% of non-affiliated respondents, and 12% of the general public.

  • As a result of the 2016 presidential election, 38% of Muslims feared for their safety or that of their loved ones and worried about violence from white supremacist groups. Only 27% of Jews, 8% of Catholics, 11% of Protestants, and 16% of non-affiliated respondents feared for their safety.

  • Safety fears impacted other parts of Muslim respondents' lives in the wake of the presidential election. 18% of Muslims admitted to making plans to leave the country "if it becomes necessary". 15% admitted to modifying their appearance to be less identifiable as Muslims. 11% reported that they signed up for a self-defense class.

These survey results are unsettling, especially when read alongside other reports showing a significant increase in anti-Muslim hate groups and anti-Muslim hate crimes during the 2016 presidential campaign and after the election. (More here.)

No community should have to live with fear of bullying, discrimination, and violence that comes with being demonized as "other". We should all be alarmed by the results of the ISPU report, as it demonstrates that the rhetoric of Trump and his allies are having a real impact on Muslim communities.

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