Most Americans believe Muslims deserve religious freedom, according to a poll by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. 61 percent said religious liberty was important for people of Muslim faith, though the number is dwarfed by the 82 percent who believe Christians’ religious liberty is important.
The figure wasn’t drastically different along political lines either, as 60 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of Democrats supported religious protections for Muslims. Those numbers for Christians were 88 and 83 percent, respectively.
“These numbers seem to be part of a growing climate of anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States,” Madihha Ahussain, an attorney for Muslim Advocates, a California-based civil rights group, told AP. “This climate of hatred has contributed to dozens of incidents of anti-Muslim violence in recent weeks.”
Representatives from American Muslim groups said at a press conference earlier this month that anti-Muslim sentiment and Islamophobia in the U.S. is worse now than at anytime since 9/11. Following the ISIS attack on Paris that killed 130 people, the U.S. experienced a number of retaliatory attacks on Muslims or mosques.
“No religion is an island,” Eric Rassbach, an attorney with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a conservative religious legal organization said. “If somebody else’s religion is being limited by the government, yours is liable to be limited in the same way. Even if you only care about your own particular group, you should care about other groups, too, because that’s the way the law works.”
Religious freedoms for Christians were more highly supported than those of Jews (70 percent) and Mormons (67 percent) — even though Mormons consider themselves Christians.