Muslims at the Crossroads: Think Tank Releases Report On Attitudes, Opinions of American Muslims

National News
Typography

Muslims in America are young, diverse, faithful, targets of discrimination, concerned about civil rights, care about the Black Lives Movement and twice as likely to be poor than the general public.

The Newseum hosted the launch of the second American Muslim Poll: Muslims at Crossroads by think tank Institute of Social Policy and Understanding, better known as ISPU. The survey was based on the interviews with 2,400 American Christians, Jews and about 800 Muslims. It was conducted in January for a span of two weeks around inauguration time. The poll results were presented by ISPU Director of Research Dalia Mogahed. Al Jazeera host, British journalist Mehdi Hasan, moderated the panel following the presentation.

It was no surprise that American Muslims are the most likely faith group in the US to condemn violence against civilians.

Sixty-percent of Muslim reported being targeted for discrimination. Muslim women are discriminated against and are anxious about being targeted for their religious beliefs. According to Mogahed, nearly 1 in 2 American Muslim women fear for their safety. This has spurred many women to take martial arts classes. "Who would've expected Trump election to lead roughly 300,000 Muslims to sign up for martial arts classes?" quipped Hasan on the results.

One finding that took people by surprise was that American Muslims do not have a dominant race. Imam Johari Abdul Malik channeling Dr Martin Luther King, said that Friday at noon was the most diverse hour in America.
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The poll reflected the work of Muslim anti-racism organizations, as Muslims showed the most support for the Black Lives Matter movement, with 66 percent reporting support compared to 58 percent of Jewish Americans and less than 39 percent of Catholics and Protestants. More work is needed on highlighting the anti-racist teachings of the religion, as Black Muslims were equally likely to experience racism from other Muslims, as Black Christians are from non Black Christians.

Not only did Muslim children face the most religious-based bullying in schools, twenty four percent were bullied by the very teachers and administrators entrusted with their care. Dr. Zainab Chaudry, Maryland Outreach Manager for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, speaking on the panel informed the audience of a case in Maryland where a elementary school child was told by his classroom teacher that he was responsible for 9/11.

American Muslims have moved on from the ‘voting is haram’ rhetoric but are still the least likely faith group to vote, mainly due to lack of quality candidates. Dalia Mogahed, director of research at ISPU, said to the Muslim Link that Muslim communities need to continue to push for voter registration drives.

Political leaning matched last year’s numbers as more Muslims leaned Democrat, with Sen Bernie Sanders as first pick. The 2017 poll revealed that 15 percent Muslims voted for Donald Trump.

Muslims in the United States are young — many of us are 30 years or younger. Young Muslims are not as alienated from their faith as members of other groups but are not connected to their local masajid. They attend religious services less frequently than do older Muslims. “It may also reflect that young people often have less flexible jobs, making attending noon-time Friday congregational prayer more difficult,”said Mogahed. Another reason for this could be access to regular religious services is limited compared to the number of options for other faith groups.

The poll also took a look at secondary screening at borders. Muslims were stopped twice as much as the general public; seven out of ten of those Muslims were easily identifiable as Muslims when they were stopped. Everyone and their uncle shares anecdotes about “flying while Muslim” but this poll gives statistical proof of profiling.

Despite high levels of discrimination, a vast majority of men and women did not change their appearance to look “less Muslims” after the election, according to the poll.

The pool is a vital tool for those who handle resources for masajid and Muslim community centers. Men and women attend religious services at the same rate so Mogahed urges Muslim masajid boards to allocate the same amount of space and resources. Muslim religious leaders and masjid boards also need to focus on the 18-29 age group which stops coming to Jummah statistic and dedicate resources to facilitate access to services.

Eighteen percent of Muslims made plans to leave the country after the election,“if it becomes necessary” —roughly one-fifth of Muslims under 30. More Muslim women were the ones making the plans for leaving for their families, than Muslim men. “This is a measure of fear for one's safety and anxiety about the threats to one's community. It is not a measure of how "American" people feel. Nor did anyone say they'd go to the Middle East. There's a reason Canada's immigration page crashed the night of the election,” reported Mogahed.

According to the report, “Domestic violence occurs in the Muslim community as often as it does in Christian and non affiliated communities, but Muslim victims are more likely to involve faith leaders.” This requires training for imams and more emphatic training on domestic violence. “More people are reporting these issues to their imams,” said Mogahed. Families and vIctims also need more awareness on how to respond.

Shattering popular misconceptions of ‘very rich Muslim friends’, and a deviation from the 2007 Pew research poll on American Muslims, in 2017 Muslims in America are most likely of the faith groups to report low income, with 37 percent of Muslims of Arab descent reporting. Muslims are donating to local domestic relief at roughly the same rate as they are to overseas relief efforts.

The full report is available for download at http://www.ispu.org/public-policy/american-muslim-poll/ .