WASHINGTON – Half of American Muslims say they have experienced discrimination in the past year, reflecting an unwelcoming political atmosphere since the election of President Donald Trump late last year, a new survey has found.
“We have to take extra care scanning our surroundings, know where we are, who is around and what kind of thoughts they might hold for Islam,” a Muslim immigrant said in the survey by Pew Research Center, BBC reported on Wednesday, July 26.
According to the survey, half of surveyed US Muslims said it had become harder to be a Muslim in the US in recent years, while 48 percent said they had personally experienced discrimination in the past year.
The most common form of discrimination cited was being treated with suspicion (32 percent of those the researchers spoke to), followed by being singled out by airport security (19 percent), being called offensive names (18 percent), being singled out by law enforcement (10 percent) and being physically threatened or attacked (6 percent).
Researchers spoke to 1,001 US Muslims by phone. They said the people they chose were a representative sample.
The feeling of being unsafe has led to drastic changes in Muslims’ everyday life.
Those with a distinctively Muslim appearance, for instance those donning hijab, were more likely to say they had experienced discrimination.
At the same time, there was evidence of growing vocal support for Muslims.
Almost half (49 percent) said someone had expressed support for them because of their religion in the last year.
While 74 percent say President Donald Trump is “unfriendly toward” them, a 2011 survey found that 64 percent said President Barack Obama was “friendly toward” them.
One man said: “When the Muslim ban was introduced the first time around, I literally felt like the persecution had started. Because we had read the history of Europe and what happened to the Jewish people in Germany.”
Another said: “You almost get that post-9/11 atmosphere because of the suppression, really, of minorities and minorities’ thoughts and voices.
“People like the alt-right or ultraconservative Trump supporters now have a larger voice that was suppressed just years ago, and now they’re really allowed to make heard what they think about Muslims and minorities in general, so a lot of tensions have been rising.”
According to the Council on American Islamic Relations’ 2016 report, anti-Muslim hate incidents rose more than 40 percent compared with 2015.
The huge increase in hate crimes rate makes 2017 the worst year for such anti-Muslim incidents since the civil rights organization began its current documenting system in 2013.
The number of bias incidents in 2017 also increased by 24 percent compared to the first half of 2016.