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Reuters survey shows 37 percent of American adults have a “somewhat unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” view of Islam

Respondents overall had an equally unfavorable view of atheism at 38 percent, compared with 21 percent for Hinduism

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  • Respondents overall had an equally unfavorable view of atheism at 38 percent, compared with 21 percent for Hinduism
  • The race for the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election has put a spotlight on Americans’ views of Muslims 
  • The poll shows 78 percent of Trump supporters and 36 percent of Clinton supporters said that Islam was more likely to encourage acts of terrorism

NEW YORK – Many Americans view Islam unfavorably, and supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump are more than twice as likely to view the religion negatively as those backing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, according to a Reuters/Ipsos online poll of more than 7,000 Americans.

It shows that 37 percent of American adults have a “somewhat unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” view of Islam. This includes 58 percent of Trump supporters and 24 percent of Clinton supporters, a contrast largely mirrored by the breakdown between Republicans and Democrats.

By comparison, respondents overall had an equally unfavorable view of atheism at 38 percent, compared with 21 percent for Hinduism, 16 percent for Judaism and 8 percent for Christianity.

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Spokespeople for Trump and Clinton declined to comment.

The poll took place before an attacker on Thursday drove his truck into a holiday crowd in Nice, France, killing more than 80 people in what President Francois Hollande called a terrorist act. Police sources said the driver, while linked to common crimes, was not on a watch list of intelligence services and no Islamist militant group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

The race for the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election has put a spotlight on Americans’ views of Muslims with Trump proposing a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States. He repeated the proposal after Omar Mateen, a New York-born Muslim armed with an assault rifle, killed 49 people in an attack on a Florida gay nightclub last month.

The ideological divide between Trump and Clinton supporters is set against a backdrop of increasing violence and discrimination against Muslims in the United States.

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Texas lawmaker to Muslims: “Publicly announce allegiance to America” Image Source: cbsnews.com

The poll shows 78 percent of Trump supporters and 36 percent of Clinton supporters said that when compared to other religions, Islam was more likely to encourage acts of terrorism. Trump supporters were also about twice as likely as Clinton supporters to say that Islam was more encouraging of violence toward Americans, women and gay people. Polling on none of the other belief systems and their perceived connection to terrorism or violence came close to matching those numbers.

Clinton has called for a more inclusive environment within American society and for a joint effort between the U.S. government and Muslim countries to battle the spread of Islamist militancy.

She has criticized Trump’s harsh statements about Muslims and Mexicans while Trump has bemoaned what he calls American society’s devotion to political correctness.

TRUMP, REPUBLICANS ALIGNED

Party affiliation accounted for the deepest division among Americans where their views on Muslims were concerned. Respondents’ status as rich or poor, young or old, or male or female did not offer as pronounced an overall view as did their identification as Democrats or Republicans.

“If it was true that Trump did not represent Republicans broadly defined, you would think Republicans would look different; they don’t,” said Douglas McAdam, a sociology professor at Stanford University who studies American politics.

“It goes against the claims of the (former presidential candidate) Mitt Romneys of the world, that Trump is not really a Republican, that he doesn’t represent the Republican party. He seems to be resonating with Republicans generally.”

According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group, attacks on American Muslims and on mosques in the United States rose in 2015 to their highest level ever recorded.

The group said 31 incidents of damage or destruction of mosques were reported; there were 11 incidents in which a Muslim person was the target of a slur or another kind of harassment.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll ran in all 50 states from June 14 to July 6. It included 7,473 American adults and has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 1 percentage point.(Reuters-Reporting By Emily Flitter; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Howard Goller)

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Violence And Intimidation Directed Towards Rohingyas In Bangladesh Camps

Human Rights Watch warned in a report in August that the Bangladeshi government was restricting access to basic services by resisting attempts by aid agencies.

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Rohingya, Violence
Rohingya refugees carry a hume pipe in Balukhali refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, in Bangladesh. VOA

The failed attempt to send thousands of Rohingya back to Myanmar starting this month has drawn attention to alleged violence and intimidation by security forces against members of the Muslim minority living in Bangladesh’s sprawling refugee camps.

Bangladesh has boosted its international reputation by hosting more than 730,000 Rohingya who fled a vicious campaign by Myanmar’s military last year that U.N. investigators have labelled genocide – an accusation Myanmar has consistently denied.

But Bangladesh appears keen to demonstrate that Rohingya refugees will not be welcome there indefinitely. The planned repatriations sparked fear and chaos last week as Rohingya went into hiding – and in a handful of reported cases attempted suicide – to avoid being sent back.

Rohingya, myanmar, violence
Rohingya refugee children shout slogans during a protest against the repatriation process at Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh. VOA

Meanwhile, allegations of sporadic beatings, looting and intimidation by Bangladeshi soldiers, police and camp officials have underscored the bleak conditions faced by Rohingya in their host country, where most are denied official refugee status and face restrictions on freedom of movement.

The repatriation of some 2,000 refugees was scheduled to begin last Thursday, but Bangladesh has now put the plans on hold until next year after failing to find any Rohingya willing to go back.

Rohingya in the camps have told VOA that soldiers were stationed near the homes of those who were told they would be sent back last week, fueling fears of forced repatriation and adding to widespread distress in communities already suffering extreme trauma after last year’s violence.

One Rohingya man told VOA anonymously that block leaders in the camps were also “announcing with loudspeakers… that it’s essential for everyone to carry ID with them whenever and wherever they go if they leave their homes.”

Late last month, security forces looted property from Rohingya shopkeepers at the Balukhali camp, said John Quinley, a human rights specialist with the non-profit organization Fortify Rights.

Rohingya, myanmar, violence
Rohingya refugees walk under rain clouds on June 26, 2018, in Jamtoli refugee camp in Bangladesh. VOA

“Right now the security forces are operating in the camps with total impunity,” he said.

In another case earlier this month, Fortify Rights reported that security forces rounded up 18 Rohingya leaders and slapped and hit some of them while telling them to instruct other refugees to cooperate with a new U.N.-backed project to provide them with “smart cards.”

Many Rohingya oppose the identity cards because they fear the information on them will be shared with the Myanmar government.

Bangladesh’s refugee, relief and repatriation commissioner, Abul Kalam, told VOA he was unaware of the allegations of violence but would follow up. “Generally, it is not acceptable that someone would apply force on or beat someone to do or not to do something,” he said.

Quinley called on the U.N.’s refugee agency to “do everything in their power to make sure that the Bangladeshi authorities are respecting human rights.”

Rohingya, myanmar, violence
An elderly Rohingya refugee holds a placard during a protest against the repatriation process at Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh.VOA

Spokesperson Caroline Gluck said the agency has notified the authorities of a “small number” of reports of violence related to the smart card project. The agency has “been following up with them to ascertain the circumstances of what happened,” she told VOA.

Officials have responded that the incidents were “not linked” to the smart card project, she said.

She added, “The new ID card will enable refugees to be better protected and will streamline access to assistance and services.”

Mohammed Sheikh Anwar, a Rohingya activist, told VOA the Bangladeshi government “needs to keep the lower-level authorities in check. There should be an accountability measure.”

“Committing violence against genocide survivors to make them agree to the authorities’ terms is not the solution,” he added.

Rohingya, myanmar, violence
A Rohingya refugee woman draws water from a hand pump at a temporary shelter in New Delhi, India.

Last week a Rohingya man named Ata Ullah said he was beaten at the office of an official at the Chakmarkul camp, the Guardian reported, after he failed to provide the official with a list of refugees.

Ata Ullah said in a video circulated on social media that when he couldn’t provide the official with a list he “was beaten with a large stick… they stepped on my neck, I could not stand it.”

Also Read: Bangladesh Government Build a New Rohingya Camp

Human Rights Watch warned in a report in August that the Bangladeshi government was restricting access to basic services by resisting attempts by aid agencies and Rohingya refugees to “create any structures, infrastructure, or policies that suggest permanency.”

As a result, the report said, “refugee children do not go to school, but rather to ‘temporary learning centers,’ where ‘facilitators,’ not ‘teachers,’ preside over the classrooms. The learning centers are inadequate, only providing about two hours of instruction a day,” the report said. (VOA)