Pres. Obama's Big Move for Muslim-Americans Has People Divided

September 7th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

President Barack Obama made history when he nominated a Muslim judge to the U.S. District Court. If Washington lawyer Abid Riaz Qureshi is confirmed, he will be the first Muslim federal judge in American history, according to CNN. It's unlikely that Qureshi will be confirmed in Obama's remaining months in office, but people are still upset about the nomination.

Angry Twitter users made Islamophobic and often factually inaccurate comments about Obama and the potential new judge.

However, the fear and inaccurate claims in these tweets are most likely based on misinformation about Muslims.

Many of the tweets say that Obama is a Muslim, which isn't true. Also some tweets reference Sharia law and a 2015 report by the conservative Washington D.C. think tank Center for Security Policy.

Sharia law is a broad term that describes both Islamic moral code and religious law. It has very different interpretations depending on the country and the culture of the Muslims living there, according to Omar Sarcirbey at the Religious News Service.

The Center for Security Policy polled 600 Muslims and, based on that small number, found that 51 percent of American Muslims agreed that Muslim-Americans want a choice on whether they can be governed by Sharia law or a choice to use a Sharia court system. However the poll was self-selecting, meaning that people on the internet chose to answer, and the center has been criticized by both Republicans and Democrats for its methods and extreme views and rhetoric.

The Southern Policy Law Center lists the Center for Security policy an "extremist" group.

"Founded in 1988 by former Reagan administration official Frank Gaffney, Jr., The Center for Security Policy (CSP) has gone from a respected hawkish think tank focused on foreign affairs to a conspiracy-oriented mouthpiece for the growing anti-Muslim movement in the United States."

Here are some actual facts about Muslims.

  • Muslims are the fastest growing religious group in the world but they only make up about 1 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Pew Research Center.
  • The majority of people killed in terror attacks across the globe are Muslims, according to a 2011 report from the The National Counterterrorism Center.
  • Only 1 percent of U.S. Muslims in a 2011 Pew Research Center poll said that suicide bombings and violence against civilian targets in the name of Islam could be justified.
  • About 22 percent of Muslim-Americans report being called an offensive name because of their religion, according to Pew Research Center.

Despite the challenges of Islamophobia, the majority of Muslim-Americans in this country tend to be more content with the direction of the country than the broader population of Americans. About 56 percent of Muslims in the U.S. said that they were satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. while only 23 percent of Americans as a whole agreed with that statement, according to Pew Research Center.

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