American attitudes towards Muslims improve: poll

Figures show significant divergence between views of Republicans, Democrats

News Desk December 06, 2017
Protesters gather outside the White House for "NoMuslimBanEver" rally against what they say is discriminatory policies that unlawfully target American Muslim and immigrant communities, in Washington, Oct. 18, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

A recently conducted survey has found that Americans view Muslims, Arabs, Americans of Arab descent and Muslim Americans in a more positive light than they have in over a decade.

The Arab American Institute (AAI) conducted the survey two months after the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. AAI stated in their report that despite a more educated approach towards racism, Americans were still divided among political lines.

Those with a favourable view of Arabs had risen from 40 per cent in 2015 to 52 per cent this year, while American Muslims were viewed positively by 51 per cent- an increase from 33 per cent in 2015.

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The figures showed a significant divergence between the views of Republicans and Democrats. Only 26 per cent of the former viewed Muslims favourably, while the number rose to 58 per cent for Democrats.

This division was also seen in whether Americans were likely to oppose Donald Trump's travel ban targeting individuals from several Middle Eastern and Muslim majority countries. 66 per cent of Democrats opposed such a ban, while fifty-two per cent of Republicans supported it.

While most respondents (59 per cent) did not support the profiling of  Arab Americans and American Muslims based on how they looked, there was a political divide in understanding of racism in the country. 75 per cent of Democrats were of the view that overt racism against Muslims had increased while only 36 per cent of Republicans agreed with that view.

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This ratio was mirrored in respondents' views on hate crimes against Muslims, with 68 per cent of Democrats and 28 per cent of Republicans stating that there had been an increase. For the first time, a plurality of Americans were confident that an American Muslim could hold an 'important position of influence in government', with 46 per cent declaring confidence against 34 per cent who claimed that religion would be a barrier to their work.

Only 33 per cent of American viewed Palestinans favourably, a distinctly lower number than that for Arabs or Muslims. This may have been due to general attitudes towards Israel, with a majority (61 per cent) supporting it.

This story first appeared on Voice of America


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