Muslims are most disliked group in America, says new study

Muslims are the most disapproved group in America, according to a new study, amid increasing anti-Muslim rhetoric from conservative politicians.

A new study from sociologists at the University of Minnesota, which analysed Americans’ perceptions of minority faith and racial groups, found that their disapproval of Muslims has almost doubled from about 26 per cent 10 years ago to 45.5 per cent in 2016.

Amid increasing focus on immigration, refugees and national security and in the wake of multiple terrorist attacks around the world, the study found that almost half of those surveyed would not want their child to marry a Muslim, compared to just 33.5 per cent of people a decade earlier.

The report found that anti-Muslim violence spiked after the attacks on the Twin Towers in 2001, as did attacks on Sikh Americans, who are often confused with Muslim Americans.

"Even the generally tolerant millennials exhibit relatively strong anti-Muslim sentiments," the report read.

Hussein Rashid, a professor at Barnard College in New York, told Religion News that the spike in intolerance is reflected by current political rhetoric.

"In 10 years, people have a more negative perception of Muslims, Jews, gays, Latinos, and Blacks," he said.

The survey, completed by 2,521 people between February 2014 and March 2016, found that Jews, Latinos and Asian-Americans also saw their disapproval ratings jump by about 10 points each.

Atheists were the second most disapproved group in the US, as they were associated with a "lack of morals".

The news comes as the Council on American-Islamic Relations(CAIR) has announced that 2016 is on track to be one of the worst years for anti-mosque incidents, with 55 cases reported as of mid-September. There were 79 incidents in 2015.

"This trend of increasing violence targeting the American Muslim community is deeply troubling," said CAIR national executive director Nihad Awad.

He added that 2016 was one of the worst years on record, involving vandalism, intimidation and physical assault.

"It is important for presidential candidates and other public figures to unify Americans against hate," he added.

"Any American should be able to freely practise his or her religion without fear of harm or intimidation."

The most recent cases in September included someone throwing rocks through a window of a mosque in New Hampshire, a driver of a tractor-trailer being rammed twice into a mosque in Maryland and a man setting a mosque on fire in Florida.

In Georgia, Newtown County officials recently reversed their decision to ban the building of a new mosque and small cemetery on land purchased by the Muslim community, following concerns from locals that the land would be turned into an “Isis training camp”.