Ambivalent nativism: Trump supporters’ attitudes toward Islam and Muslim immigration

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Trump speaks at a campaign rally in HamptonEditor’s Note:This working paper is part of a multi-year Brookings project—”The One Percent Problem: Muslims in the West and the Rise of the New Populists.” Other papers in the series are available here.

Contents:

  1. Islam and the American Right
  2. Survey data on Trump voters’ attitudes towards Muslims and other groups
  3. Trump supporters’ views on Islam, national identity, and immigration in their own words
  4. Conclusion

Despite representing a little more than one percent of the total U.S. population,[1] American Muslims have long been viewed with suspicion by their fellow citizens. This has been true since the Iranian Revolution and hostage crisis in the late 1970s, but American attitudes toward Islam turned especially negative following the September 11 terrorist attacks, which many American commentators blamed directly on Islamic religious doctrines.[2]

 

The political right in the United States, on average, has exhibited more suspicion of Islam and Muslims than the political left, and many conservative media personalities have expressed considerable hostility towards Muslims.[3] Other conservative political and intellectual leaders have called for religious tolerance, however. Thus, conservatives in the electorate have received mixed messages from elected Republicans and conservative opinion leaders. American attitudes toward Islam and Muslims became an especially important subject after Donald Trump was elected president on a right-wing populist platform that explicitly called for a ban on Muslim immigration. This paper examines Trump supporters’ views on questions of Islam, immigration, and national identity. Beyond asking whether Trump’s supporters favor exclusionary policies, I investigate how strongly these supporters feel about Islam, considering whether opposition to Islam is a critical part of their political worldview, or just one element of a broader nativism.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTE SITE 

Washington State Muslims Fight Islamophobia with Personal Stories

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July 30, 2019

TACOMA, Wash. — Muslims in Washington state are building bridges with their neighbors in a new series launching today in Tacoma. Muslim organizations, alongside the Associated Ministries of Tacoma-Pierce County, hold the first “Sharing Our Stories – Meet Your Muslim Neighbors” event at Skyline Presbyterian Church.

Head of the American Muslim Empowerment Network at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound Aneelah Afzali said the goal is to find common ground with people through personal stories. She’s seen this kind of relationship building work as an antidote to Islamophobia in the past. Last year, Afzali spoke with two women at a Longview event who never had met a Muslim.

“They actually cried to me. They admitted that they had hatred in their heart, that they had fear in their heart and that that two hours really removed that and they gave me a hug,” Afzali said. “I mean, they brought me to tears. It was a profound and powerful moment and it just reminds me of the power that personal stories and those personal relationships have.”

Afzali said the goal is to bring this series to more rural and conservative parts of the state. A Seattle-based public relations firm created videos of three Muslim individuals for the event. Afterwards, there will be a panel discussion and then a chance for people to speak with folks of different faiths directly.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m.

Afzali said she finds this type of event necessary as political divisiveness and Islamophobia ramp up around the country. Along with an increase in attacks, an investigation by the Council on American-Islamic Relations found anti-Muslim organizations are making big money. The report “Hijacked by Hate” said mainstream philanthropic institutions funneled at least $1.5 billion to a network of 39 anti-Muslim groups between 2014 and 2016.

Afzali said that amount of money, combined with a misunderstanding of the religion, is a recipe for disaster.

“So when this is happening and people don’t have the personal connections with people who they know, it allows for fear and hatred and even violence to grow,” she said. “And we’re seeing the consequences of that all around us.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM PUBLIC RADIO INTERNATIONAL

For religious American Muslims, hostility from the right and disdain from the left

Contributor, PostEverything

July 25

Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is the author of “Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World” and the co-editor of “Rethinking Political Islam.”

End Of Ramadan Is Celebrated In Brooklyn With The Eid Al-Fitr FestivalIt is an odd time to be a Muslim in America, in part because it depends on which America you happen to live in. Here, too, there are two Americas.

On the one hand, this is a sort of golden age for American Muslims and their place in public life. Sometimes it seems like Muslims are everywhere, even though they’re not. They star in their own television shows; they headline the White House correspondents’ dinner ; they win Academy Awards; they become Snapchat sensations. Some of it is more subtle but striking nonetheless: If you live in a semi-hip urban setting, it’s not unusual to see a headscarf-wearing woman in an ad flanked by a rainbow coalition of other diverse Americans.

This can make it easy to forget the other reality that exists alongside the liberal pop-culture embrace of Muslims. The increase in anti-Muslim bigotry and other forms of discrimination against Muslims is well documented. But even if you don’t experience it or see it, you know Islamophobia exists, because it is there on social media. It is also in our president’s rhetoric. It is inescapable.

These copycat bills on sharia law and terrorism have no effect. Why do states keep passing them?

b0c3b8d6-75d6-4328-8369-b1e46146032c-AP_17032732466766 A far-right think tank pushed model bills on sharia law and terrorism in dozens of states. Civil rights groups say the goal was to stoke fear.
Updated 2:20 p.m. CDT July 21, 2019

A lawmaker in Idaho introduces legislation to prevent traditional Islamic law from infiltrating U.S. courts.

In Florida, a legislator proposes striking at the foundations of terrorism with a bill bolstering victims’ ability to sue its supporters.

The lawmakers’ efforts are seemingly unrelated, their statehouses almost 2,000 miles apart.

But both get their ideas, and the actual text of their bills, from the same representative of the same right-wing think tank.

And when they introduce the bills, the same activist group dispatches supporters to press for passage.

Eric Redman of Idaho and Mike Hill of Florida are among dozens of legislators who have sponsored copycat bills written and pushed by a network of far-right think tanks and activists.

The legislation was developed by the Center for Security Policy, which was founded by Frank Gaffney, a Reagan-era acting Assistant Secretary of Defense, who pushes conspiracy theories alleging radical Muslims have infiltrated the government. Once the copycat bills are introduced, local chapters of the Washington, D.C.-based ACT for America, which describes itself as the “NRA of national security,” encourage their supporters to show up at legislative hearings and flood lawmakers’ inboxes and phone lines in support of the bills. ACT’s founder, Brigitte Gabriel, has claimed that up to a quarter of all Muslims support the destruction of Western civilization.

How Muslims Became the Good Guys on TV

p07drx41Hit show Homeland is about to end, after many years casting Islam as the enemy. But in its place has come a wave of thrillers portraying Muslims as heroes, writes Mohammad Zaheer.

One of Hollywood’s many ugly truths is that, for all its claims to be a progressive industry, it has relied heavily on racial and ethnic stereotypes, catering to and shaping the prejudices that are prevalent amongst its audience. This is especially true when it comes to who it chooses as its villains.

Even though the Cold War ended decades ago, Russians have remained a favoured variety of bad guy, and Germans have also had a rough ride thanks to the countless number of Nazi evildoers who have appeared on screen since World War Two.

But since the turn of the millennium, the demographic who has undoubtedly been the greatest single target for demonisation are Muslim-Arabs. Even before the events of 9/11, they found themselves portrayed variously as sleazy oil rich sex pests, exotic subservient women, misogynists and/or militant terrorists. But the tragedy of September 11 2001 and the subsequent war on terror only exacerbated their negative typecasting.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE BBC NEWS 

Facebook’s anti-Islam algorithm [Getty]

479Right-wing evangelical Christians have created an array of Islamophobic Facebook pages

A newly published Snopes investigation provides a deeper understanding of how small groups of right-wing extremists are manipulating Facebook to portray anti-Muslim views as representative of a much broader swath of the general public.

The authors of the investigation reveal how a small group of right-wing evangelical Christians have created an array of Islamophobic Facebook pages in conjunction with establishing Political Action Committees (PACs) to build “a coordinated, pro-Trump network that spreads hate and conspiracy theories” about Islam and Muslims.

For instance, the Facebook pages titled, “Blacks for Trump” and “Jews for America,” among others, are financially tied to Christian evangelical activist Kelly Monroe Kullberg, who is neither black nor Jewish, but founder and president of The America Conservancy, a group that claims to do “justice” to the “American story”, and “to explore those roots and fruit of thriving culture possible in relation to a life-giving God who brings dying things back to life.”

Well, that’s what “the Kullberg group” claims to be all about, but in reality their motives are far more sinister. These include the manipulation of Facebook to promote US President Donald Trump by stirring up further fear and hatred of Muslims, at a time when the United States is dealing with a domestic white nationalist terrorism crisis, one that produced more than 500 hate crimes against Muslims in the first five months of 2019.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL ARABY (UK) 

At Muslim Sunday school, learning about Islam — and correcting misconceptions

muslim_sunday_school-2-mansoorOff a highway in central Connecticut is the mosque with a 400-student Muslim Sunday school.

More guards are on patrol these days. And for the older students in the transition class, talking about Islamophobia is not only welcomed, but encouraged. The teenagers are in their final years of high school and will be heading off to college soon.

So before they head out into the “real world,” they aren’t just learning the tenets of Islam, said Dr. Reza Mansoor, their teacher on a recent Sunday. He’s coaching them on how to defend their faith from misconceptions.

“By the way, As-Salaam-Alaikum,” Mansoor greeted them. “If you use an Arabic term and you don’t translate, dinged one point, OK? So As-Salaam-Alaikum means God’s peace be with you all.”

Mansoor is president of the mosque, called Islamic Association of Greater Hartford, and he is big on translating Islamic phrases and words. Take jihad, for instance. It means a struggle — usually a personal, spiritual one — but if you hear jihad in the media, he said, it’s almost always associated with extremists who commit violence in the name of Islam, like the 9/11 terrorists.

“If you use jihadist for terrorist, you unfortunately give the terrorists… a position much higher than what they are,” Mansoor told his students.

People tend to fear what they don’t know. And when Islam is viewed as a threat, that makes Muslims a target.

“Just imagine someone calling you a terrorist and telling you to go home,” Aissa Bensalem, 17, said during the class. “I had one of my friends say that they were scared to come to the masjid because they were afraid that they were going to be shot on.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CTMIRROR.ORG