Muslim women see a different America

If you’re a reasonable person, Rowda Asad’s comment to MPR reporter Doualy Xaykaothao in the aftermath of the weekend bombing of the Islamic Center in Bloomington was a gut punch.

“I’m American, my kids are American. I never imagined some American people would hate us that much,” she said.

Her comment underscores the new research from the Pew Research Center. When it comes to life in America, Muslim men and women tend to see things differently.

Women are much more likely than men to say that life in America has become more difficult for Muslims.

Forty-four percent of the Muslim women surveyed say the American people are friendly toward Muslims. Sixty-five percent of Muslim men say so, Pew reports.

Muslim women also express more apprehension than men about anti-Muslim discrimination. Eight-in-ten Muslim women (83%) say there is a lot of discrimination against Muslims, compared with a smaller share of men who say this (68%).

In fact, about half (55%) of women say they have experienced at least one of several specific types of anti-Muslim discrimination in the past year.

These incidents include having been treated with suspicion, called offensive names, singled out by airport security or other law enforcement, or physically threatened or attacked. Fewer men (42%) say they have personally experienced one of these types of anti-Muslim discrimination in the past year.

Muslim women also are more likely than men to say they stand out in society due to their physical appearance. While some Muslim men (27%) say there is something distinctive about their appearance, voice or clothing that people might associate with being Muslim, a much greater share of women (49%) say there is something distinctively Muslim about the way they look.

This could in part explain why Muslim women are more likely than men to say they have experienced discrimination. Six-in-ten (64%) Muslims whose appearance identifies them as Muslim have experienced discrimination compared with 39% among those who are not easily identifiable as Muslim.

There was a bright spot in the survey, according to Pew. More women than men say that someone has expressed support for them because of their religion.