Trump’s baseless assimilation claim about Muslims in America

Dr. Ferhan Asghar at a Muslim center in West Chester, Ohio, with his wife, Pakeeza, and daughters Zara, left, and Emaan.

Dr. Ferhan Asghar at a Muslim center in West Chester, Ohio, with his wife, Pakeeza, and daughters Zara, left, and Emaan. reports: Donald Trump made a baseless claim that assimilation among Muslim immigrants in the U.S. is “pretty close” to “nonexistent.” Trump offered no support for his claim, but the Pew Research Center, which conducted detailed surveys in 2011, concluded that “Muslim Americans appear to be highly assimilated into American society.”
Scholars on Islam that we spoke to also dismissed Trump’s claim as “bizarre,” absurd” and inconsistent with their observations of a Muslim community that they say is — for the most part — well integrated into American culture and identity.

Let’s dig into the highlights of some of Pew’s specific findings:

  • Muslims are more likely than other immigrants to become U.S. citizens. Four out of five Muslim Americans are U.S. citizens, including 70 percent of those born outside the U.S. That is a much higher rate than the broader immigrant population in the U.S., as 47 percent of all foreign-born are citizens.
  • Nearly three-quarters of Muslim Americans (74 percent) believe that “[m]ost people can get ahead if they are willing to work hard.” That rate of optimism is higher than the general public, 62 percent.
  • A roughly similar percentage of Muslims and Christians in the U.S. say they think of themselves first as either Muslim (49 percent) or Christian (46 percent). Among white evangelicals, 70 percent said they identify first as Christian. A higher percentage of Christians as a whole say they identify as Americans first, 46 percent, compared with 26 percent among Muslim Americans. But Muslim Americans were more likely (18 percent versus 6 percent) to say they considered themselves Muslim and American equally.
  • A majority of Muslim Americans (56 percent) responded that most Muslims who come to the U.S. want to adopt American customs and ways of life, while 20 percent said those Muslim immigrants want to be distinct from the larger American society (16 percent said they wanted to do both).
  • About half of Muslim Americans say that only some or hardly any of their close friends are Muslims, while half say most or all of their close friends are Muslims.
  • More than six in 10 Muslim Americans see no conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society, almost identical to the rates among U.S. Christians.
  • Half of Muslim immigrants say they display the American flag at home, at the office or on the car, and 33 percent of native-born Muslims reported doing so as well. Overall, displaying the American flag is less common among Muslim Americans (44 percent) than among the population as a whole (59 percent).

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