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Why American Muslims are Becoming More Liberal

posted on: Aug 30, 2017

By: Meriam Helal/ Contributing Writer

American Muslims are one of the fastest growing populations in the United States, yet they are the most misunderstood. Pew Research Center and the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) took a rare look at this growing community to understand changes in the past decade.

The American Muslim community has more than doubled in the past decade to 3.35 million, making up 1 percent of the U.S. population. Along with this increase, the community evolved in their political identification. During George W. Bush’s presidency, American Muslims were a natural constituency for the Republican party. But in the 2016 election, only 15 percent of American Muslims preferred Trump over Hillary for the Presidency according to the ISPU survey. This comes with no surprise due to Trump’s hateful rhetoric towards Muslims and Islam.

Since the 2016 election, roughly one-fifth of Muslims under 30 have made plans to leave the country, if necessary. This is due to fear of groups such as: neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the Ku Klux Klan.

Therefore, it is no surprise that of the 44 percent Muslim Americans who voted, almost 8 in 10 voted for Hillary Clinton and only 8 percent voted for Trump. Approximately, 7 in 10 Muslim Americans say Trump makes them feel concerned, and 45 percent report that Trump makes them feel angry.

What comes as a surprise is that during the Democratic primary, 27 percent of Muslim voters favored Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton, increasing to 40 percent of Muslim voters under 30. This highlights how young most Muslim voters are. According to ISPU, 37 percent of Muslim voters in the U.S. are over 18 and under 30, while 80 percent are under 50. Among this Muslim demographic, the political priority is civil rights.

Due to religious discrimination, young American Muslims have similar political ideologies as other young minorities. The ISPU survey reports that 72 percent of American Muslims support Black Lives Matter.

Young American Muslims are less religious than their elders that only a little more than one-third said they attend worship services once a week.  Yet, 91 percent of  young Muslims affirm the importance of religion in comparison to 56 percent of  Millennials in the general public.

Professor of Islamic history at the University of Kentucky, Ihsan Bagby, advised to not over-analyze Muslim change in views as it may only be sending support to other group who is discriminated against. One group is the LGBT community that Bagby explains that, “the struggle of the LGBT community has been very similar to the struggle of Muslims and in fact the LGBT community has been very supportive of Muslims.” Yet, although both groups support each other politically, Bagby highlights that many Muslim organizations would not accept homosexuality as an “acceptable lifestyle for Muslims.”

More interestingly, is the reason American Muslims have changed courses in their political ideologies. While it could be due to immersing in the American culture and mainstream, or due to the internet and modernization, the most recent election seems to be the driving force, which begs the question whether this demographic will continue with their liberal views, or will they return to their conservative views.