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American Muslims remain optimistic despite hardships

28th Apr 2017
American Muslims remain optimistic despite hardships

Ala Abbas

A new report by the Institute for Social Policy finds American Muslims to be a group that suffers a lot of hardships but the most optimistic group when it comes to America’s future. The report published last month, titled “American Muslim Poll 2017: Muslims at the crossroads”, shines a light on some worrying statistics when it comes to discrimination, but found American Muslims to be predominantly young, highly educated people who are passionate about helping their fellow Americans.

The majority of Muslim respondents reported some level of religious discrimination over the past year and were nearly five times more likely than any group to experience religious discrimination on a “regular” basis. Younger Muslims, women, and Arabs were the most likely to experience prejudice based on their religion. The poll found that Muslims were significantly more likely than any other group to face secondary screening at border crossings (30 per cent vs 12 per cent among the general public).

According to the survey, both Muslims and Jews reported higher levels of fear and anxiety than other faith groups due to the election results, with nearly one-fifth of Muslims even making plans to leave the country “if it becomes necessary.” 38 per cent of Muslims expressed fear for their safety from White supremacist groups, followed by 27 percent of Jews. Despite this, Muslims were the most optimistic about the future of America, with 41 percent of Muslim respondents reporting that they were “satisfied with the country’s current trajectory”, a higher percentage than any other faith group or non-affiliated group.

Muslims respondents were as likely as Christian respondents to have gone to graduate school, and a higher percentage of Muslims graduated with a bachelor’s degree compared to Christian respondents. Within Muslim communities, women surpassed men in educational attainment with a higher percentage of women than men holding an associated or Bachelor’s degree (64 percent compared to 44 percent).

Despite their high levels of educational attainment, Muslims (35 percent) were “significantly” more likely than any other faith group (18 percent or less) to report a household income of less than $30,000, with African American Muslims more likely than other American Muslims to be in the lowest income category. 44 percent of African American respondents had an income of less than $30,000 a year, followed closely by Arab Muslim Americans at 37 percent.

American Muslims were the least likely group in the survey to vote (61 percent) or be registered to vote (68 percent). This was largely due to “widespread dissatisfaction with the options presented to them”. However, they were the most likely of all faith groups to support civil liberty movements. The report found a “robust” support for the Black Lives Matter movement among Muslim respondents. This was especially true of Muslim women who were 25 percent more likely to support the movement than men. Asian Muslims were almost as likely as non-Muslim Black respondents to support the movement. Muslims were the most likely faith group to support Black Lives Matter (66 per cent) followed by Jewish respondents (57 percent).

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

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