WASHINGTON – Amid reports that US President Donald Trump would ban refugees from seven Muslim countries, Americans’ attitudes toward “Muslim people” were becoming progressively more favorable over the past year, making a huge shift in popularity.
According to the Washington Post, four polls during the election year revealed extraordinary, progressive and unexpected shifts during that year.
The polls, by the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development in the University of Maryland, showed that attitudes toward “Muslim people” became progressively more favorable from 53 percent in November 2015 to 70 percent in October 2016.
Other polls, on the attitudes toward Islam itself, generally more unfavorable than attitudes toward Muslims, showed significant improvement.
The figures showed that favorable attitudes went from 37 percent in November 2015 to 49 percent in October 2016, reaching the highest favorable level since 9/11.
Among Democrats, the shift was significant enough to impact overall results. Favorable attitudes toward Muslims improved from 67 percent to 81 percent. Favorable attitudes toward Islam went from 51 percent to 66 percent.
The change in Americans’ attitude towards Muslims was clear in reaction to the White House plans to temporarily stop receiving refugees and suspend visas for people from seven Middle Eastern and North African countries.
“The president needs to know he’s an absolute fool for fostering this kind of hostility in his first few days. This will inflame violence against Americans around the world,” Seth Kaper-Dale, a pastor at the Reformed Church of Highland Park, New Jersey, which he said helped resettle 28 refugee and asylum-seeking families in the state last year, told Reuters on Wednesday, January 25.
Before his Nov. 8 election victory, Trump, a Republican, pledged to stop taking refugees from Syria and immigrants from countries deemed to pose a terrorism risk.
“Muslims, we believe, are the sole targets of these orders,” said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group.
“These orders are a disturbing confirmation of Islamophobic and un-American policy proposals made during the presidential election campaign,” Awad told a news conference in Washington.
About 100 protesters gathered in New York City’s Washington Square Park chanting, “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are here to stay.” They also blasted the Trump administration as “too male, too pale and too stale.”
“We reject policies that turn their backs on those who have suffered,” US Representative Nydia Velazquez, a New York City Democrat, shouted to protesters.