WASHINGTON, DC: Roughly half of all Americans think “at least some” Muslims in the United States have anti-American sentiments, according to a new survey released on Wednesday.
Of the 49 percent of those polled by the Pew Research Center who believe Muslims in the country have negative feelings about America, 11 percent said “most” or “almost all” Muslims were anti-American.
Another 42 percent meanwhile said they believe that “few” or “no” Muslims harbor such feelings.
The study was released on the same day President Barack Obama visited an American mosque for the first time during his presidency, offering a high-profile rebuttal of harsh Republican election-year rhetoric against Muslims.
Billionaire Donald Trump has demanded a ban on Muslim immigrants while frontrunner Ted Cruz has advocated Christian-only admissions and championed “Judeo-Christian values.”
The Pew study showed a clear partisan divide in general attitudes toward Islam.
More than half of Democrats say “just a few” Muslims in the country are anti-American, while most Republicans believe anti-Americanism to be more widespread.
Americans are also divided — mainly along party lines — over how the next president should discuss Islamic extremism.
The poll said 50 percent of respondents think Obama’s successor “should be careful not to criticize Islam as a whole” while 40 percent support frank talk “even if the statements are critical of Islam as a whole.”
The views are split according to political affiliation, with 70 percent of Democrats favoring caution compared to 29 percent of Republicans, while 65 percent of Republicans think the next president should talk bluntly about Islamic extremism.
The poll shows greater consensus over the issue of violence and religion, with 68 percent of respondents saying their chief concern was the fact “some violent people use religion to justify their actions.”
Some 22 percent of Americans believe the problem is instead that “teachings of some religions promote violence.” Of that number, most point to Islam.
The Pew survey also found that six out of 10 Americans believe there to be “a lot” of discrimination against Muslims in the United States, and 76 percent think discrimination is growing.
Only half of Americans say they personally know a Muslim, however.
The survey of 2,009 adults was conducted by telephone between January 7 and 14.