Jun 14th 2018b
TODAY, on June 14th, Muslims across the world will break fast for the final time this year, marking the end of Ramadan. According to a survey conducted in 2017 by Pew Research, a think-tank, around four-fifths of Muslims in the United States participate in the fast. In America, the Eid al-Fitr holiday in 2018 is likely to prompt reflection among those observing as well as celebration.
During his presidential campaign in 2015-16, Donald Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States. Just a week after taking office, he tried to institute a ban on travel from several majority-Muslim countries, which was later implemented in a watered-down form. Unsurprisingly, he appears to have made most of the 3.5m Americans who call Islam their religion feel unwelcome: 68% of respondents to the Pew poll said that Mr Trump makes them feel worried about their place in the country’s society.
Mr Trump’s political rise coincided with an increase in hate crimes against Muslims in the United States—though this trend could have been caused by factors other than the president’s rhetoric. According to figures from the FBI, racially-motivated incidents against Muslims doubled from 2014 to 2016. More broadly, one-third of Muslims responding to Pew’s poll in 2017 reported being treated with suspicion, compared with a quarter a decade earlier. Research by the Voter Study Group, another think-tank, shows that Muslims are viewed far less favourably than racial or sexual minorities like blacks and gays are. Muslims are right to believe that many of their compatriots regard them as second-class citizens. In a recent poll conducted by YouGov, 18% of respondents said they would support denying Muslim Americans the right to vote.
The YouGov survey does offer some cause for cheer on this Eid al-Fitr. When Mr Trump first proposed his “Muslim ban” in December 2015, a disturbing 48% of respondents said they approved of the idea. That share has now fallen modestly, to 39%. However, virtually all of the decline has been seen among Democratic leaners: a quarter of people who said in 2015 that they planned to back a Democratic presidential candidate the next year supported the ban, whereas just 5% of those who wound up voting for Hillary Clinton say they like the idea today. Their Republican counterparts, in contrast, have held firm. In 2015, 80% of respondents who said that they expected to vote for a GOP candidate wanted to institute Mr Trump’s ban. The same share of those who did pull the lever for him favour the policy now.