Poll: Narrow support for ban on Muslims entering U.S.

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A majority of likely Michigan Republican presidential primary voters said they support a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, according to a Detroit News/WDIV-TV poll released Friday.

About 51 percent of 600 likely GOP voters said they backed the idea while 40 percent responded that they opposed it, according to the survey by the Glengariff Group. Around 9 percent of those polled didn’t know or refused to answer.

New York City billionaire and GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump proposed the ban on Dec. 7, five days after Islamic State supporter Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik shot and killed 14 people at a San Bernardino, California, social services center. They were subsequently shot dead by police.

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Farook was a 28-year-old born in the United States to a Pakistani family, while Malik was a 29-year-old Pakistani immigrant who entered the country on a fiancee visa.

The Michigan poll findings are discouraging but “not surprising,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Michigan chapter. “The GOP has been extremely divisive this election cycle, not just relating to Syrian refugees in particular but also the issue of border security, including anti-Mexican rhetoric.

“...Fear sells and gets votes, especially in an election year,” Walid said, adding “no refugee has committed a terrorist attack in America in more than a decade.”

The poll has a margin of error of plus-minus 4 percentage points.

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Nearly three-quarters of Trump’s supporters in the survey back the temporary ban on Muslim immigrants. Backers of Cruz and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson support the Muslim immigrant prohibition idea, while supporters of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida are split, according to the survey. Backers of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich oppose the proposal.

The temporary Muslim immigrant ban was supported by 48 percent of likely primary voters who said they attend church weekly, while 42 percent were opposed.

Such a measure “goes totally against the American Constitution and the idea of religious freedom — especially since the individuals who came to this country in fact were trying to search for religious freedom,” said Mahir Osman, secretary of public affairs with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA’s Metro Detroit chapter. “What our responsibilities then should be as a Muslim community is just to reach out and educate the public as to what Muslims are and what Islam truly teaches.”