WASHINGTON – A minority of Americans believe that many Muslim Americans are not “American” enough, according to a new study by the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group.
They also see little difference between Muslims from other countries and Muslim Americans, “suggesting that ‘Americanness’ alone does not lead to more positive views,” the study of 5,000 respondents found.
Further, nearly 20 percent of those surveyed would deny Muslims who are U.S. citizens the right to vote and many would support a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country, according to the study by the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group.
Perceptions split dramatically down party lines, with Democrats believing that more than two-thirds of Muslims wanted to fit in, while Republicans believed only 36 percent did.
Overall, respondents believed only 51 percent of Muslim Americans respect American ideals and laws, and only 56 percent want to fit in.
While the survey found major partisan lines in how people responded, Republicans and Democrats agreed on three perceptions: Muslims tend to be religious, have outdated views of women and outdated views of gay people.
Muslims were ranked the lowest of any demographic group – just behind feminists, with a score of 48 — on a favorability scale in which respondents rated various demographic groups on a scale of 0 to 100.
The perceptions among non-Muslims were inconsistent with how Muslims view themselves, with a large portion saying they consider themselves patriotic.
“While these are disturbing perceptions, the survey itself shows that they are not a reflection of reality — in that American Muslims are well-integrated, patriotic and productive citizens — but are instead a product of misinformation and the active promotion of Islamophobia in our society,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Hooper put the blame squarely on Donald Trump for the overwhelmingly negative perception of Muslims.
The president has been criticized by politicians on both sides of the aisle for his positions on Muslims – including his false statement that he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheering over the September 11 terrorist attacks.
During the 2016 Republican presidential primary race, Republican Governor Jeb Bush said, “You talk about closing mosques, you talk about registering people — that’s just wrong.”
But reactions like those haven’t deterred the president from imposing policies that restrict people from several majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S.
The number of Muslims living in the United States is projected to double as a share of the U.S. population by 2050, according to the Pew Research Center.
- Those surveyed view many Muslims in the United States as insufficiently “American.” On average, they believe that only 56 percent of Muslim Americans want to fit in and be part of the U.S., and that only 51 percent of Muslim Americans respect American ideals and laws.
- Perceptions of Muslims are strongly related to partisanship and cultural conservatism. For example, on average Democrats believed that a substantial majority of Muslims (67 percent) wanted to fit in, but Republicans believed that only 36 percent did.
- On three dimensions, however, perceptions of Muslims cross partisan and ideological lines: That Muslims tend to be religious, have outdated views of women and, separately, have outdated views of gays and lesbians.
- There is significant support, especially among Republicans, for policies that would temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country and, for Muslims within this country, subject them to additional surveillance. In fact, almost 20 percent of those surveyed would deny Muslims who are American citizens the right to vote.
- Negative perceptions of Muslim Americans do not match what Muslim Americans themselves believe. For example, large majorities of Muslim Americans express patriotic sentiments.