These are tense times for American Muslims. Majorities say that their religious group faces a lot of discrimination in the United States, that the media is unfair to Muslims and that other Americans do not view Islam as part of mainstream U.S. society. Nearly one-in-five (19%) say they have been called offensive names in the last year, and 6% say they have been physically threatened or attacked.
These findings come from Pew Research Center’s new survey of 1,001 U.S. Muslim adults, conducted Jan. 23 to May 2, 2017. The poll follows earlier Pew Research Center surveys of American Muslims in 2007 and 2011.
The new survey indicates that the U.S. Muslim community is facing numerous challenges. Three-quarters (75%) of Muslim respondents, for example, say there is “a lot” of discrimination against Muslims in the U.S. (a view shared by 69% of Americans in general). Muslim women are more likely than Muslim men to hold this view (83% versus 68%).
Muslims also were asked whether they had experienced specific types of discrimination over the previous 12 months. About one-third (32%) say that others have acted suspicious because they are Muslim, one-fifth say they had been called offensive names, and 18% say airport security had singled them out. One-in-ten (10%) say they had been singled out by other law enforcement officers and 6% say they have been physically threatened or attacked. Overall, 48% of respondents say at least one of these things happened to them in the 12 months prior to the survey, slightly higher than the 40% of respondents who said the same in 2007. Women (26%) are more likely than men (13%) in this year’s survey to say they have been called offensive names.
Along with their concerns, U.S. Muslims also report a host of positive feelings about life in the U.S. Even as most say that Americans do not view Islam as mainstream, for example, majorities of U.S. Muslims (60%) say they have “a lot” in common with most Americans, and that they can get ahead through hard work (70%) – a belief that is a key component of the so-called American dream.
At the same time, they are considerably less likely (37%) than the general population to own a home (57%), and more likely (40%) than Americans in general (32%) to have annual household incomes under $30,000. They also are more likely (29%) than the general population (12%) to be underemployed, meaning that they are employed part-time, but would prefer full-time work, or they are unemployed but looking for work.