'Half of the American public is concerned about extremism spreading within Muslim communities in the United States,' according to a New America report.
UNITED NATIONS – An overwhelming majority of Americans say they believe Muslim Americans positively contribute to society, according to a new stud, but drill down and large numbers harbor suspicions over ties to terrorism and report feeling concerned when encountering Muslims in everyday life.
Robert McKenzie is a senior fellow at New America, which sponsored the latest report:
“Half of the American public is concerned about extremism spreading within Muslim communities in the United States, one in three Americans reported that they feel uncomfortable when they see Muslim Americans wearing a veil or Islamic attire, and one in three Americans also said that they would be concerned if a mosque or Islamic center was built in their neighborhood.”
McKenzie said New America chose to conduct its survey close to the midterms for a reason, since the group believed that “at the local, state and federal level in a number of elections Muslims would figure prominently and often in a negative way.”
There’s been no shortage of those negative portrayals.
One video by the conservative group Secure America Now warns that the Muslim Brotherhood wants to see “radical Muslims” become “the majority in communities across the country” and is close to building a global caliphate encompassing the U.S.
President Trump himself even warned that “Middle Easterners” infiltrated a migrant caravan in Mexico, though he later admitted he had no intelligence to prove it.
One sign those warnings strike a chord is that survey respondents believed Muslims represent 17 percent of the U.S. population, far higher than their actual 1.1 percent.
With more than 100 Muslim Americans running for office this November, McKenzie hopes those campaigns introduce Muslims to new segments of the American population. That could change minds in the long run, but for now, anti-Muslim sentiment continues to run deep.
“I think part of this has to do with muscle memory from 9/11; even though we’re approaching the 20-year mark, you still have Americans who have deep fear and deep concerns, and you’ve also had a number of elected officials and people running for office who have done an awful lot to fan the flames.”