tv Inside Story Al Jazeera March 25, 2016 11:30pm-12:01am EDT
season. i'm antonio mora, thanks for joining us, swrawz i ray suarezp next with "inside story." have a great weekend. >> today, a fascinating poll of american muslims was alsod, asking about religious identity. american identity, political identity, civil engagement, and it found that muslim americans answered those questions like americans. during the hotly contested primary season, a look at a small and fascinating group of american voters. muslim and american. it's the "inside story".
welcome to "inside story". i'm ray suarez. from the olster hen and women of the 18th century, to the germans and austrians of the 19th, to the asians, southeastern european jews and italians of the 19th and 20th centuries, lots of people professing many things, they had to make a journey from being them to being us. millions of american muslims are still on that road for reasons involving culture, religion, national it security, and the obsessions of an anxious age. as they are a religious group rather than a national, racial or ethnic one, muslims defy easy caggization. they trace their heritage from dozens of countries. they are every race that come on this country from every corner of the globe. what they have in common is islam. and you have to go back to
panics over roman agent lick immigration in the 16th century to find a similar hostility in american life. a front running presidential candidate is suggesting barring muslims from entry into the country, and others rejection, mosques, and outlawing the muslim legal tradition in local law. the institute for social policied up anding has completed a survey of american muslims and compare their sentiments to americans who profess other religions. the results are eye-opening. muslims and americans this time on the program. joining me for that conversation. dahlia, richard, and imam talib sharif, the congregation here in washington d.c.
welcome to you all, dallia you've been surveying muslim public opinion in the united states and abroad for a long time. and you must go into the exercise, assuming that you're going to get some answers, and being what, surprised or confirmed. what surprised you about your results. >> my biggest surprise is how often muslims, i expected them to be very pessimistic. and i thought that they were going to say that the direction of the country was heading in the wrong direction, but i found the exact opposite. they have appreciated his rhetoric. >> speaking of political orientation, you asked the survey respondents which party they sorted.
44%, supporting the democrats, and 6% republicans. if we had done this poll before 9/11, would the results have been different? >> i think we would have. i think that far more muslims would have identified with the republican party. we know there was an endorsement of bush in 2000 by many muslims, and not all. this was the party that many muslims felt is the natural place for them, more conservative social values, an emphasis on individual responsibility, which all are things that muslims generally adhere to. but i think that two things have happened. muslims as a young community are really feeling the importance of social justice, much more than their parents, and two, the republican party, more and more has alienated muslims. >> let's look at candidate
preferences. 40% of your respondents support hillary clinton, 27% bernie sanders, a surprising 4%, i'm surprised that it's that high for donald trump since he's suggesting barring muslims to the united states, 2% for cruz, 1% for rubio, and apparently the fact that bernie sanders is jewish is not a problem. >> muslims are as likely as jews to favor bernie sanders. and another favorite muslim candidate happens to be a woman. another blow to a stereotype. and hillary is the most popular among muslims compared to the other communities that we surveyed. >> the other respondents were african-american, that's not coming from embe grant stock, south africa, central asia, the middle east. is the political profile a little different?
we are talking about african-american muslims who are descendent from people here for a long time. were they less likely to share some of the social conservatism from people who come from countries like israel, iraq, pakistan? >> yes, that would be want case. if you look at the history, obviously with the african-americans, because they were here, and they were on the path to struggle to set their humanity free, civil rights, and because they didn't see themselves as americans, because they were looked at as being less than a citizen at the time and jobs. but the same thing now, economics and jobs are pretty high. and many of the immigrants that they say come here, a lot of them initially, we find them isolating themselves, more so in their provings, not necessarily in religious life. and then we begin to see that because the african-americans were in the community and
connected with the people in the community, we begin to see more of the social need and the social justice and et cetera in that community than the immigrant community. and now, as we say, the immigrant community, all the same now, because they're facing the discrimination. racial discrimination was the big one for the african-americans, and now the religious, and the bigotry, and we're both in the same boat, which puts us in the situation now to collaborate on how we survive and begin to forge a more great america with the swearsty. >> richard sizzik, you had a front-row seat for the intertwining party of the evangelical muslim. one very striking piece of poll data that has come out recently shows american evangelicals in a sizeable majority don't think
muslims share american values. the values of us of islam are inconsistent with american values. >> precisely, but it's born out of the values that every evangelical has. this is the judeo-christian kurt. it was founded on the christian faith by puritans and others, and they look at this and say, this is our heritage. and are muslims part of that heritage? they don't see it that way, and they are inclined to say, this is our country and who are these newcomers? >> that is an interesting -- would it be part of the more generalized anxiety around high levels of immigration in decades? a slight variation on that, rather than directed specifically at islam? >> i think that it's a factor that is
historical. it's a trend line that goes way back to the early part of the country. so i'm not so sure that it's directed intentionally at muslims, though there are leaders who have exploited us. we have seen that over the last 15 years particularly since 9/11, and we have seen that in the current election cycle with mr. trump i think exploiting this. and so i happen to think that we have the opportunity as american evangelicals to respond differently. >> in the program, i want to talk about it this is irretrievable or with us for a while. muslim and america. stay with us, it's "inside story".
>> i'm ray suarez, and you're watching "inside story". muslim and american this time on the program. the institute for social understanding asked muslim americans about their views on politics, civil engagement, the will you and violence. i'm talking with richard, talib, and dahlia. do you have a multicultural congregation? >> 60% african-american and the rest is diverse. >> have they felt the same pressures, right here where we are, just a few miles where a jet slammed into the pentagon and things chilled after that, by common consent, did your members feel that same chill? >> absolutely, we all have a
human soul, and what we call ourselves as far as faith identity, we felt the same thing, so we felt the same. it wasn't different because we're here as muslims, we're americans, as african-americans, the feeling was the same. >> i want to look at another piece of data from the survey. muslims were asked whether they experienced discrimination regularly, sometimes, not at all. and among those who answered that they experienced discrimination, a smaller number than oval reported that they were optimistic about the future of the country, just about half, 49%, but among those who said that they regularly felt discrimination, they were more loyal to be socially engaged. 55p.. so apparently it didn't chase them out of the civic space, dahlia. >> right. and i think that it's really the untold story.
since 9/11, i've witnessed anecdotally that it has increased muslim civic engagement. it takes a lot of forms, feeding the homeless in their community, it takes the form of starting medical clinics to serve all people. it takes the form of organizing to clean up a highway. and a few summers ago, i actually collected stories of muslim community service, and i was shocked at how much was going on in this country. and many people said that they had been doing it as a way to live their faith rather than wasn't. >> does that present an opportunity? the fact that even after being scorned, and after being shoved aside that they're not totally alienated, gettable as a community. >> that's really important.
i think that conservatives and protestants and others in the society should see this has an opportunity to welcome, and encourage political participation, even as we realized from this survey. they are simply doing as muslims what we as american protestants have been doing for a long time. manifesting what we believe in law. so yes, it's a squandered opportunity if we respond by fear or misguided patriotism or racism. it's a great opportunity for us, and yet very few evangelicals see that. >> you know, imam, it's so ingrained in human beings to want to be understood and to to want to be known. and when i saw those statistics on still feeling optimistic, i thought these are just people who are waiting for everybody to sort of recognize that they want to be in the club too. that they're just like
everybody else. >> well, you know, muslims are people of faith. and which also find that the stronger your faith, the more you attend the mosque, your identity for the land that you serve in gets stronger as well. so their hope and aspirations is in the promise that god gives them. we can't dismiss that as a major factor. they have a brighter side, as people of faith, to see what god's reward is for them in the land that they're serving. >> dahlia, you asked about self conscience identity and what did those numbers tell you? >> first, we asked about how strongly they identified with being american, and how strongly being their own faith. and across the board, americans identify strongly with their faith and their country.
no matter what faith, as muslims, both their faith and their country, but what was more interesting, the muslims who identified strongly with islam were actually more likely to identify strongly with being an american than muslims with a weeker i.d. muslim actually made them more patriotic. >> yet when the oklahoma state legislature debated, when the alabama state legislature debated about traditional muslim law, there was a fear that regular mosque attendance, strong identification with the muslim faith made you less american. >> yeah, that's ironic. seven states have done this. at least seven, to pass anti-shiria laws, and this is misguided. and i think that it's really unfortunate. i hope that it would encourage
evangelicals, who are inclined to be distrustful, that going to a mosque doesn't mean that you're more violent, but less, and it means that you're more involved in solving community problems. individual identity are not squashed but integrated, that's the greatness of america, if you want to talk about greatness, and that's to be relished and protected and cherished, and not just used as a political slogan. >> if they aren't ready to throttle back or put that in reverse. >> they aren't. i visited my local mosque in fredricksburg, virginia, and there was a recent request by the mosque to expand. a community hearing was held. and there were those who came out angry, who are accusing every muslim of being a terrorist.
appalling, sad, we were all disheartened by this. and it was sad. as evangelicals in particular, we have been the protectors of the heritage, and we deserve that title, and americans have played that role, and they see themselves as conserving that heritage. if they really understood the value of the mosque in the community, and protecting that american identity, because that's what it says, want more religious you are as a muslim, the more you identify with america. >> wow. that's something that we ought being. >> muslim and american. stay with us. >> he received another bullet in the chest. >> former translators are not just refugees, they're veterans. >> "faultlines".
muslims, asking them to register, surveilling their places of worship, at the same time, told researchers that being a muslim is simply not consistent with american values. tall why sharif, and dahlia and richard are still here. is this a moment that you can live past -- i mean, you grew up here, and does time take care of this? or there work to do among all of these communities to help this it final entry into the mainstream? >> well, ray, i think that it's important to realize that this animus against muslims is not organic, it's manufactured, and it's something that's being deliberately brought about. so when you look at when anti-muslim spikes i united states, it's not after terrorist attacks, as
suspected, but it's during election cycles and up to the iraq war. >> so san bernardino, and in tomorrow's news, finding young somalis in training, al-shabaab. >> they do, but they don't create the kind of spike in anti-muslim sentiment as election cycles. if you look at 202 2001 to 2013t. we had 9/11 and we had the boston marathon bombing, commit bid muslims, and in the case of 9/11, an improvement. and the boston marathon bombing did not change the anti-muslim sentiment by even one percentage point, but did change it, the runup to the iraq war, democrats and
republicans grew in their anti-muslim sentiment as the war, the runup increased, and then the other twice, during the 2008 and 2012 primary among republicans. so primary seasons, among republicans especially, increase anti-muslim sentiment by around 14%, where actual terrorist attacks didn't. and that tells me that this is being used as a political tool rather than an organic response. >> iman, is there any tool back to that that a place where you can be heard by the country citizen? >> yes, it's already starting to happen. as we noted, islam has been here a long time. and a lot of the american citizens have overlooked it, because we're not professing in our be communities, i'm a
muslim, look at me. we're actively engaged and muslims are serving, and they're right beside many. if you were to take the same poll and take the labels off, you would be surprised at what they select. they believe that being religious as a muslim, you're going to be more radical, but the data shows just the opposite. the same data that speaks about muslims being more religious being more faithful to their identity of the faith, and as machine american, the protestants had the same. you'll find the same exact expression, so the stage is already set and want history is there. i'm a 30-year veteran. i served in america, in the armed forces of the air force, and there are thousands that have done that. >> i'm one of the many. police officers, they are engaged in every part of the
public and private sector, so we're starting to come together. the faith community is starting to come together to be the stage to address these issues. >> if members of america's religious majority, christians, protestants in particular, saw these poll data, would they hold onto those ideas, richard? or is there a chance to put this on a different footing, a different context of this conversation some. >> i think that another footing is possible if pastors will lead. we have done polls, and pastors resonate to a lot of what's said at this table, but they're a bit fearful to speak out because they're afraid this their congregation will sack them, frankly. it's about their own employment. and fears are running high. one of my personal aphorisms, if you never changed your mind about something, you may be dead, intellectually and
spiritually, and faith, you see, is the genius of transforming the unbelievable, the barely believable, if you will, into reality. that's what faith does. and i have faith that america's evangelicals will respond. it may take time. it may take education of pastors who will play that right role. but it's happening slowly. but the public impression created, especially with some of the inciting that goes on in election cycles, would lead you to believe otherwise. look beyond want headlines and beyond the represent rick of the campaign, and look to your neighbors. all of us have muslim neighbors, and if you don't have one muslim friend, i suggest that you make one. >> very quickly, because we're just about out of time. you did find something about how many people know a muslim person, and there's a stat on that. >> . >> roughly half of americans
say that they don't know a muslim personally. >> and that would help to dispel this idea that islam, this personal thing is one thing, but the muslim guy i know is an okay guy. i want to thank my guests, dallia richard and tallied. are there conditions at play this time that are going to pull latinos off of the sidelines into the voting booth? i'm ray suarez, thank you for watching, good night.