Pollster Dalia Mogahed said in an interview that aired Thursday on “What America’s Thinking” that anti-Muslim sentiment takes a cue from elected officials’ rhetoric.
“Anti-Muslim sentiment in the public follows the rhetoric of politicians,” Mogahed, director of research at the Institute of Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), told Hill.TV’s Jamal Simmons on Wednesday.
Mogahed pointed specifically to the increase in anti-Muslim sentiment during George W. Bush’s presidency.
“He [Bush] made the right statements, made responsible statements about a separation between these horrific attacks and a community of 1.7 billion people,” she said, referring to Bush’s response after the September 11 terror attacks.
“Unfortunately, his rhetoric very quickly changed in the run up to the Iraq War, and public opinion exactly followed his rhetoric,” she said.
“So surprising to a lot of people, American public opinion improved slightly about Muslims right after 9/11 versus right before,” she continued.
Seventy-eight percent of Muslims voted Republican in 2000, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
However, in 2004 Muslim Americans largely supported former Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry after the start of the Iraq War.
President Trump has faced backlash for his comments on Muslims, particularly in regard to his travel ban.
Research shows that Muslims appear less hopeful under the Trump administration than they have been under past administrations.
A study released by ISPU earlier this year found that 27 percent of Muslim Americans were satisfied about the direction the U.S. was headed, down from 41 percent in 2017, and 63 percent in 2016.
ISPU primarily works to empower Muslim-Americans to develop their communities and to take part in the electoral process.
— Julia Manchester