More than a third of Americans want to ban Muslims from entering the United States, a new poll has found.
Nearly half of the US nationals surveyed want to keep a database of all Muslims already in the country, according to the poll by television network CBS news published Friday.
The poll follows Republican presidential ticket frontrunner Donald Trump’s suggestion Monday that the US bar Muslims from entry in response to a deadly gun attack in San Bernardino, California that is believed to have been inspired by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) armed group. Mr Trump’s comment has prompted outrage from international media and governments but recent polling data shows that more Republicans support the prospective presidential nomineee than ever.
American Muslims, meanwhile, have drawn parallels between Mr Trump’s comments and a rising Adolph Hitler. Akbar Ahmed, the chair of Islamic Studies at American University, wrote on Thursday that the US is on “the road to Kristallnacht … this time with Muslims instead of Jews.”
The CBS poll of more than 1,000 Republican, Democratic and independent voters released Friday found that the vast majority of Americans feel Washington “should not ban” Muslims from entering the US. Among Democrats, 73 per cent opposed a ban, compared with 38 per cent of Republicans.
It appears that at least some Republicans feel that national safety considerations trump the US’s core values. Among Republicans, 54 per cent “favor” the ban, but 51 per cent feel it “goes against founding principles” of the US.
That’s not the only apparent contradiction in the poll results. Republicans, many of which say they oppose “big government” and intrusions on their privacy, also overwhelmingly favored registering Muslims already living in the US in a government database, another of Mr Trump’s suggestions following the ISIS-inspired attacks in Paris last month that killed 130 people. Among Democrats, roughly 30 per cent said they favored the registry — about half the number of Republicans.
Republican support for Mr Trump has surged in the polls since his comments Monday. Mr Trump saw a 13 percent growth in support since October with 35 per cent of those surveyed — his highest share yet, a poll from CBS and The New York Times published Thursday showed. Mr Trump’s leading competitor, Ted Cruz, trailed behind with 16 percent, CBS reported.
Mr Trump’s incendiary comments on ethnic minorities and differently abled people have provoked criticism, but his significant fan base often lauds his apparent disdain for political correctness.
American Muslim rights advocate and spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Ibrahim Hooper, told The Independent, that the CBS poll published Friday is “fairly consistent with our research over the years — about a third of Americans are actively hostile to Islam.”
“When you’ve got the leading Republican presidential candidate spewing bigotry and gain support because of it, you wonder if it’s 1933, not 2015,” Mr Hooper said, referring to the year that the Nazi Party registered unprecedented wins in the German federal election.