Is America becoming a less welcoming place for Muslims?

Even though presidents of both parties have professed respect for Islam, incidents around the country have suggested hostility toward Muslims in recent years. Today’s Question: Is America becoming a less welcoming place for Muslims?

  • Neil Sorensen

    The United States is slowly becoming a more secular nation. As literacy rates and educational levels rise, more intelligent people tend to reject religion altogether. In France, more than sixty percent of the country’s inhabitants are atheists, as their educational systems are secular and superior to those in the United States. As the the United States’ educational system becomes more secular and as a consequence the children have better critical analysis skills, religion will begin to be rejected outright by the many, including for Islam. One reason why Islam may be specifically targeted in the United States (America is considered slanderous by most people in Central and Latin America) may be due to the fact that right wing religious fanatics are allowed to home school their children, producing fascist tea party activists and adults who reminisce about the relevance of Nazi approaches. Home schooling is a big problem in the United States, and should be outlawed. It is a bastion for the development of intolerant individuals that makes the United States less welcoming for diverse populations. Not surprising, though, given that black people were systematically lynched and murdered just three generations ago.

  • Steve the Cynic

    In other words, Neil Sorensen, if only everyone in America were as intelligent and enlightened as you, everything would be just peachy, so let’s compel everyone to be indoctrinated into your way of thinking?

  • Shahab

    There is no doubt that Islamophobia is on the rise in US – and unfortunately, it appears that America is complacent enough to allow it to happen. Freedom of religion apparently doesnt apply if you are Muslim, and the double standard couldnt be more apparent – nationwide outcry over an Islamic Center, and the arson at a mosque in Tennessee are obvious examples.

    The pastor in Florida is ‘protesting’ terrorism by burning the holy book over the acts of a handful of radical Muslims; Imagine the nationwide outcry if I were to burn a Bible in protest of the actions of his small, racist congregation of Christians.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Is America becoming less welcoming to Muslims? It’s hard to tell. People seem to have an endless capacity to find distinctions between “us” and “them,” and to convince themselves that those differences are important.

  • Peter

    Of course it’s this pastors “right” to do this. But it doesn’t make it the right thing to do. The bill of rights are protections they are not sanctions. The first amendment allows me to shout racial and homophobic slurs, but that doesn’t make it morally permissible. Although with the rise of the Tea Party….who’s to say what’s permissible.

  • It certainly seems so. But ignorant and angry behavior like book-burning merely encourages *more* ignorant and angry behavior. Not all Christians are alike; why is it assumed that one billion Muslims are all alike? Would all Christians like to be judged by the behavior of Timothy McVeigh and the man who staged noisy anti-gay protests at the funerals of U.S. soldiers? Muslim EMT’s and firefighters were among the heroes of 9/11 and at least one gave his life.

  • Neil Sorensen

    Steve the Cynic – I am suggesting that the same people who’s parents and grandparents supported the lynch mob mentality and were against civil rights are expressing their discontent with racial equality through home schooling, tea party activism and the kind of religious fanaticism that supports churches like the Dove World Outreach Center. I am also referring to social intelligence, not any kind of genetic intelligence, that enables people to find empathy for one another. I do believe that the Republican party and its highly religious base may potentially be the downfall of the United States if things do not turn around.

  • James

    The United States of America was founded on and in ingrained in Christianity.

    Yes, it is easy to say “Us” Vs. “Them” check this out:

    Can you imagine the goal (if / when achieved) of total Islamic world?

    It would be suppressive, brutal, controlling and depressing. The “leaders” would be Taliban type similar to what Afghanistan had before the USA kicked them out. Just think of all the Burkas , honor killings, Jihad, unemployment, corruption and hopelessness.

    Yes, let’s welcome them with open arms… while they stab “Us” the INFIDEL in the back.


  • Diane Gerst

    Yes, some Americans are becoming less welcoming. This hysteria about Muslims sickens me. The majority of Muslims are law abiding and hard working and like most of us want to live and worship in peace.

  • Damon Gates

    We are welcoming to anyone, as long as it’s convenient, doesn’t require anything of us, doesn’t require that we change or expand our worldview, or cause us any stress whatsovever.

    After that, all bets are off.

    Better to threaten our rights and freedoms than our comfort, complacency, and egotism.

  • Bob

    As a former Catholic and now a member of the non-religious, I am appalled by most religions and I embrace secularism. Although I feel it is unfair to condemn Islam for the actions of its zealots, I can understand the animosity toward the religion. Muslims expect religious freedom for themselves in the West but generally don’t support the same for any religion other than Islam. The Muslim community has largely been silent regarding the persecution of Christians throughout the Middle East; Saudi Arabia continues to fund mosques and midrassas in the West but won’t allow the existence of a church in their country. I can’t think of word that better describes this than hypocrisy. We have a large Muslim population in Minnesota. When I start seeing them protesting Muslim extremism, stoning, degradation of women and so on, they will then garner my respect.

  • Kirk

    I am so SICK of receiving emails, and hearing comments which equate ALL Muslims with Muslim extreemists. This is as moronic as equating all Christians with Waco Texas, or Jonestown’s koolaide party, or the Crusades for that matter……

  • Adam Jacobson

    In response to James – it is exactly that kind of close minded, racist view of Islam that is at the heart of the problem. I, as a life long Christian, don’t want you claiming to be a Christian, for you are making us all look bad with your hate-filled fearmongering. Go read something based on actual research, come back and have an meaningful discussion. Until then, please stop hurting America’s image.

  • Chris

    I am ashamed to say America does not practice what we preach. Not constitutionally and not religiously.

    I am so disappointed. Shahab take heart, as a Christian and others like me my heart is loudly breaking for the Muslim community! Burning the Koran in this manner nothing less than reenacting the crusades and Nazi warfare!! Yes as a nation 9/11 was devastating…to all of us, and the nation is angry…but this? Burning the Koran is akin to burning the Bible and while we are at lets burn the flag because what this so called “pastor” and his supporters are doing!

    Practice what you preach America!

    Practice what you preach Christians!

    America is becoming a less welcoming place for everyone.

  • Mary

    If we are honest with ourselves we have to answer this question with a yes. The right wing radio and TV “entertainment” shows and the tea party are driving an aweful lot of people to strongly dislike anyone who doesn’t share their views, and this includes Muslims.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Thanks for the clarification, Neil Sorensen. How silly of me to think that when you wrote, “As literacy rates and educational levels rise, more intelligent people tend to reject religion altogether,” and “As….children have better critical analysis skills, religion will begin to be rejected outright by the many, including for Islam,” you were suggesting that religious belief is a symptom of poor education! I’m glad you’re not suggesting that, because that would be an arrogant, dismissive and prejudiced thing to say. I agree with you that we have too much arrogant, dismissive prejudice in America. Critical analysis begins with self-criticism.

  • James

    Adam Jacobson, what would your view of a Islamic ruled USA look like?

    Would I burn a Koran… of course not.

    Would I stop some nut from burning one -NO.

    Would I declare Jihad if a Bible is burned –NO.

    This is still the United Sates of America! WE have the blood earned FREEDOM to do what makes us happy within the law.


  • Brian

    I don’t know that America ever was a welcoming place for Muslims. I am 66 years old, and when I think of how Muslims (in particular Arabs) have been represented in the media over the last fifty years, I see a lot of stereotypes, racism and/or obvious religious prejudice. From the end of World War II until today, the history of the American presence in many of those parts of the world peopled primarily by Muslims has been a history of greed, exploitation, violence, brutality, racism, and religious prejudice. For example, think of what we have done in Iran: in 1953 the US and the UK engineered a coup that removed a popular government and replaced it with a dictatorship; in the 1980s we supplied both Iraq and Iran with arms as the two nations fought in a war that resulted in about one million dead. Then there’s Iraq: approximately 20% of the population turned into refugees, well over a hundred thousand dead, and countless millions physically and/or psychologically maimed for life–all because we chose to wage a war against that country.

    I believe that one of the principal objectives in American foreign policy should be to make peace with the Muslim community throughout the world. President Obama took a major step forward in this direction with the speech he gave in Cairo to the Muslim community. Unfortunately, he has allowed us to get bogged down in one of Bush’s wars.

    Once we are no longer an occupying force in the Muslim world, or a force serving the interests of the most greedy, corrupt, and exploitative members of our society, and no longer a force supporting the most repressive regimes, and once we seriously commit ourselves to brokering a fair and just peace between the Palestinians and Israel, I think we will see great improvement in the attitude of Muslims toward Americans and Americans toward Muslims.

    I don’t have much hope for this kind of wisdom.

  • Sue de Nim

    I’m glad I live in a country where people are free to say ridiculous things, like suggesting that Islamists might actually gain power in America and asserting that “It would be suppressive, brutal, controlling and depressing. The ‘leaders’ would be Taliban type similar to what Afghanistan had before the USA kicked them out. Just think of all the Burkas , honor killings, Jihad, unemployment, corruption and hopelessness.” And I’m even more glad that I am free to denounce such rants as hateful fear-mongering.

  • Adam Jacobson

    James –

    Yes, everyone has the freedom to do what makes them happy within the confines of the law. Nobody has argued the legality of burning the Koran, and you are also free to hate the religion of Islam to whatever degree you want.

    But I can safely say you would not extend that same level of freedom to a Muslim American, and from your previous comments, can all but guarantee that you are opposed to the building of the “mosque” in NY (which, btw, is not actually a mosque, it is a cultural center.. YMCA does not equal a church), even though there isnt a single law that prevents them from building their cultural center.

    You sir, epitomize the American double standard. As an American, you need to hold yourself to a higher standard – freedom for all means FREEDOM FOR ALL, irrespective of creed, race, skin color, etc.

    And not to restate what I wrote before, but honestly, go read a book based on actual fact and research, then return with a cogent argument. Islam, above all else, preaches PEACE. Dont let the acts of a few tarnish a beautiful religion, same as i will not let the acts of a few terrorist Christians (McVeigh, Nazis, Spanish Inquisition.. the list goes on an on) ruin the beauty and truth of Christianity.

  • The minister of a fringe congregation with 50 people has captured international and U.S. presidential attention merely by threatening to burn religious books. In light of this, can you understand that the behaviors of fanatics and opportunistic publicity seekers in the Muslim world might be over-reported and might not represent anything like a majority?

  • Curt C.

    With all the “OMG terrorists!” fear-mongering that’s been going on of late, I’m actually surprised there hasn’t been more incidents against Muslims, since there’s so many sheeple in here. And one proposed book burning in all of America. One! It’s sad that there’s still that one, but in a country of some 300+ million, that’s not a bad ratio.

    Now if there were riots and murders over anti-American cartoons, that’s when we know our countries really filled with imbeciles.

  • Gordon in Two Harbors

    Looking back at our history it’s obvious that a bright streak of intolerance has always occured in America, and that the idea of “Freedom and Justice for All” has never been applied to mean “everybody”.

    We have a whole lot of people who still judge others by the color of their skin, the religion they practice, and the sexual preference they were born with.

    Add this behavior to the worsening fiscal crisis, unpredictable economic impacts from climate change, and unchecked population growth, one can easily imagine the end of the “United” States within this century.

  • jim e.

    no. but look at where we are. our president and military leaders are asking that we dare not offend muslims because of their expected violent reaction. now that’s islamophobia.

  • Khatti

    It’s important to remember the fire-breathers are really a very small part of the population. Most chapters of the Ku Klux Klan could attend a kegger at a frat house and there would still be room for more guests. My understanding is that this church in Florida has a membership of fifty people.

    On the other hand, the fire-breathers didn’t even know what a Muslim was ten years ago. For better or worse, we react to infamy. And few acts in recent history have been as infamous as 9/11. Clint Eastwood personifications aside, America is really a very fearful, risk-averse place. And we don’t like complications. It’s most-likely true that America is less welcoming to Muslims than it used to be.

  • James


    I am NOT opposed to a “cultural center” near ground zero. Thank you very little for putting those words in my mouth.

    I DO believe in freedom for all.

    I DO NOT hate Islam.

    DO NOT tell me how to conduct myself within the law. My freedom of speech it is writen on a document called the Constitution. (First – Tenth Amendment — try reading it someday) Here is a link for your actual facts and research :

    If islam is so peaceful then why do we have radical islamic idividuals and governments threating to kill us?

    I believe we should pull ALL of our military and fincial backing from around the world and stick to our own business. This may relieve some pressure off the “get the Infedels out of sacrad holy land” hoopla.

    Since when has the Nazis regiem been Christian??? Are you rewriting history again?

    McVeigh was a nut job, he will rot in Hell for eternity for his crimes.

    To answer the question:

    Is America becoming a less welcoming place for Muslims?

    In short –yes.

    “Should we be a less welcoming place for Muslims?” be might be a better question.

    In short –no. Just don’t tell me what or how to think,, thank you very much.

    What else would you like me to answer?


  • Bryan Mckenzie

    We as a country have no obligation to be more or less welcoming to anybody. Your question asks whether we as a country are treating members of a religeous group fairly, since we are supposed to have a seperation of religeon and state, this should be an irrelevant question. MPR is looking for opinions on this question, but I have an alternate qestion, Why is the president of the United States,the secretary of state, and the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan pleading with some yokel in Gainesville Florida to not burn a BOOK?

  • Kent

    I like and support our only Muslim Congressman, but I do not think we want to encourage Muslim immigration because Europe has encountered many problems due to high Muslim immigration which we should try to avoid. For instance, a Dutch film-maker was recently killed by a Muslim fanatic, the liberal democracy of France has been forced to ban veils to thwart certain parts of suburban Paris from looking like Saudi Arabia, fatwas and terrorism was conducted against Danish interests around the world because of the publishing of the Mohammed-bomb cartoon, and Great Britain must constantly watch its large Muslim population to prevent the Tube from being blown up. While it is clear that a majority of Muslims do not support these activities, a large Muslim population does provide the cover that radical Muslim terrorists need to operate freely.

  • Frank Kallio

    James.. I dont intend to get into a flame-war here as is going on with Adam (you both have valid points), but why are terrorists who follow Christianity “nut-jobs” and removed from the realm of argument (as they are a fringe movement who twist and contort the true words of Christianity), while the few fringe Muslim terrorists become a representative of all Muslims?

    I was eating a bag of M&M’s yesterday, and one of the M&M’s momentarily went down the wrong tube. As such, should one conclude that all M&M’s are out to kill humans? Indeed not.

    And while you may not *hate* Islam, you are indeed scared of it.

  • Jamie

    It’s clear that we are.

    I am by no means a right-winger but *I* don’t feel very welcoming toward any group who considers women to be second-class citizens. Whenever I see women walking around the Twin Cities covered from head to toe (sometimes in 90-degree heat!), it reinforces my reluctance to be welcoming. And that’s just one visible example of how women are oppressed. Don’t get me started on women in mosques or the disparity between how women and men get divorces. Then there are all the cultural influences on the treatment of women that are intertwined with Islam that lead to “honor” killings and stoning and the like.

    There was some major research conducted a few years ago (it was in the news a lot for a couple weeks) about Muslims in the U.S. One of the pieces of data from that study said that of all the Muslims in the country, “only” 3 or 4 percent believed it was all right to use violence to do something like make a political statement, or something like that. The message I heard when that was reported was “See? Not all Muslims are terrorists! It’s just a small percentage.” But 3 or 4 percent of all the Muslims in the U.S. is way more than enough to make ME a little nervous! The study reported some hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the U.S. ONE percent would be way too many!

    And yes, I feel JUST as unwelcoming and nervous about radical fundamentalist Christians!

  • FrizzleFry

    To Frank – was it a brown M&M? I bet it was!

    No but seriously, M&M’s are actually out to kill us – obesity is our #1 killer!!

  • Kirk

    Right now I wish I were the head of some Chritian group. I would publicly announce, and follow through with a commitment to have ten copies of the Koran printed for every copy this Florida nut-case burns.

    Chritian organizations out there, ARE YOU THERE??

  • Jen

    Yes, I’ve felt that this has been true for a while. It seems like the words “Isalm” or “Muslim” and their derivatives have become ethnic slurs to many people, as though a person of the Islamic is inherently depraved or violent. The conflation of Islam with radical terrorists who are Islamic is very shallow thinking, and can only lead to poor ends. As usual, the Daily Show’s satirical take is spot-on: “A Christian is an extremist by burning a Koran. A Muslim is an extremist by reading from it.” – Jon Stewart, paraphrasing Fox News.

  • Jen

    Sorry, the below should read ‘a person of the Islamic *faith.*’ Typing too quickly.

  • Amin Rahmatullah

    Religious persecution is not new. The Jews were maligned in this nation in the past. Anti semitism every now and then raises its ugly head.

    Tolerance, patience and forgiveness have been enjoined by the Quran.

    Pastor Jones, if he would study the Quran would realize that Jesus and Mary are as much revered in this book as any other prophet. In fact there is a chapter, named after Mary that describes the miracles surrounding her.

    In chapter 3, verse 186, God predicts in the Quran, many of the trials and tribulations that will be faced by muslims and much will be said and done that will hurt and offend the muslims, however, God orders the muslims to be patient and repel evil by good deeds.

    There is no cure for ignorance. Much of this world would be a better place if people would learn about each others religion.


  • Neil

    I can’t say. But since 9/11 I have seen Muslims praying in public a few times, typically the afternoon prayer. My sense is that they are feeling more comfortable about doing so.

    I remember that there was an increase in Qur’an purchases after 9/11 because there was a rush to understand rather than a rush to judge and hate. Our resolve to defeat terrorism is only strengthened by comprehending that Islam is not the enemy.

  • Jamie

    >> We have a large Muslim population in Minnesota. When I start seeing them protesting Muslim extremism, stoning, degradation of women and so on, they will then garner my respect.

    I wholeheartedly agree, Bob.

  • Jamie

    …can you understand that the behaviors of fanatics and opportunistic publicity seekers in the Muslim world might be over-reported and might not represent anything like a majority?

    So what if it’s not a majority? It only took 19 people to horrify us on 9/11, and there are many, many more than 19 exteremists in the U.S. Around the globe, there are at least a billion Muslims. If only 2% of those Muslims are extremists working to seriously harm everyone who doesn’t believe what they believe (infidels), and to essentially enslave women, that’s 20 million! One percent is 10 million. So what if it’s not a majority?!?

  • Hi Jamie,

    Glad you asked. Yes, 19 or 2% are *way* too many, I couldn’t agree more. However, I’d invite you to look at the hate crime reports gathered by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the organization that crippled the national Klu Klux Klan. They track and report hate crimes around the country, but I don’t remember ever seeing one committed by a Muslim.

    In *The Muslim Next Door: The Qur’an, the Media and that Veil Thing*,” Sumbul Ali-Karamali reports anti-Muslim hate crimes after 9/11 including a pizza franchise owner beaten by teenagers, an Indian man and Australian roommate attacked and stabbed by men shouting anti-Muslim accusations, a friend’s half-Indian baby-sitter being refused service at businesses she had patronized all her life, a friend’s niece receiving threatening phone calls before her house was torched, a Sikh gas station owner being murdered, an Indian restaurant being torched (p.211) — and these are certainly not isolated incidents.

    Another thought for you on stereotyping: Think of a serial killer. Now, quick, what color and gender was this person? With one exception (not a Muslim) all the ones I can think of were white males. Does that mean all white males should be treated as potential serial killers?? Peace and blessings to you,

  • onder

    James.. your memory may be misleading you. Please see this Christian Science Monitor piece about the myth of Muslim support for violence:

    It shows that Americans in general are more approving of terrorist attacks against civilians than any major Muslim country except for Nigeria.

    A study by the University of Maryland shows that only 46 percent of Americans think that “bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians” are “never justified,” while 24 percent believe these attacks are “often or sometimes justified.”

    Do these findings mean that Americans are closet terrorist sympathizers?

    Hardly. Yet, far too often, Americans and other Westerners seem willing to draw that conclusion about Muslims.

  • Tony

    Duh, ya think???

  • Kevin

    It seems a ‘segment’ of the public cant be bothered to understand other points of views.

    It might be a side effect of less and less free time people have as they work for unlivable wages….

    Or it is a side effect of the opinion freedom of speech might mean freedom to ignore or be ignorant.

    Over the long haul the US has become more understanding. But you hit pockets who go through culture shock when they learn others have OTHER points of view…. and one reaction is rejection.

    Its not the only option as a reaction.

    The few Muslims I have known are very polite, tolerant, and often NEVER bring up their beliefs.

    Generally very good people who work hard.

    Not everyone is the same.

    IGNORANCE is learned train of not learning or being lazy about listening.

  • Race Traitor

    I agree with Neil Sorensen. Religious belief is indeed statistically correlated with lower I.Q. and lower educational attainment. It is not a matter of arrogance or prejudice. The lack of a clear separation of church and state in the United States no doubt supports increased religiosity and consequently intolerant behavior, specifically towards Muslim minorities.

  • James,

    I do take your point that even if only a tiny minority of Muslims are dangerous and violent, a tiny minority is enough to do enormous damage.

    *My* point is that the real enemies are violent fanaticism, aggressive ignorance, cruel manipulation and abuse of others, rapacious greed – and these are not confined to any one religion or nation! Treating all Muslims as the enemy is not only unfair, but alienates potential friends and allies.

    There are Muslim doctors, teachers, scientists, social workers, artists, musicians and poets. Musicians in Afghanistan are suffering horribly now, but they are as much Muslims as those who persecute them – far *better* Muslims, I would argue.

    As a Christian, you might feel some resonance with these words of Rabi’a al-Adawiya, a very famous Muslim woman:

    “I swear that ever since the first day You

    brought me back to life,

    The day You became my Friend,

    I have not slept —

    And even if You drive me from your door,

    I swear again that we will never be separated–

    Because You are alive in my heart.”

  • MN

    For all of the Islamic apologists out there- please put together a list of the welcoming Islamic countries were I could bring an uncovered western women and practice some other religion openly without fearing for our lives…. Which Islamic countries have anti-discrimination laws? Which have actual evidence based justice at all, that is were a couple men can not have a women killed for adultery on their say-so? Which prohibit and enforce laws against people killing disobedient children (i.e. daughters) or grandchildren? Which Islamic states have real universities where women also allowed to be educated in a real way, as opposed to “schools” for religious indoctrination. Which Islamic states, where Muslims actually have their own Islamic government, run their society in a way that we would not consider barbaric and backwards if not outright evil?? What is the percentage of “welcoming” vs not “welcoming”? Please leave other religions out for now, we can talk about Hinduism and the oppressive cast system later….

  • Steve the Cynic

    What I hear you saying, MN, is that you think it’s wrong for those predominantly Muslim countries to discriminate against those of other religions, such as Christians, but because they do, we should hesitate to welcome them into our country? I sense a double standard here.

    BTW, those “barbaric” customs you mention are cultural, not religious. Christian men in this country once regarded women as chattel, thought it was appropriate to keep them “barefoot and pregnant,” and taught them that it was their religious duty to submit to them. White Christians once thought God approved of the institution of slavery. The mere fact that it was Christians who believed those things didn’t make them Christian ideas. Likewise, the fact that honor killings are carried out by people who happen to be Muslims doesn’t make honor killings part of Islam. There are plenty of moderate Muslims who will tell you those things are not part of their religion.

  • Michael Chapman

    My Comment is:

    Muslins are peole how live by what is writen in the Koran. And they follow it to the letter, your better look for yourselfves what it tell them what to do. For instance they beleive that it you don’t submit to it, it is death for you and your family

    Don’t let yourself be fooled be them, lookat Great Britain’S lost of there freedoms . Australia gave those people no entry to there country,wish I glad they understood the coninquinces what woyuld happen. Let Us THE U.SA. thell them we allready fought for our freeddomsand liberties, we don’t want/need for your to come and take them away. Also They the mulims get the Hell out of this Countryand we’ll hope fully will elect a man for President that will polically stand up for US. Get our troops away from the fertile land of Idiots, wich have been fighting themselves to thousans of years. We need to supply our own Country with resources to make us reliant to no mideast oil. Let the Saudies cry,we don’t want you here telling us us what to do.