It may not be what you think.
A new study shows that bias against Muslim Americans is having an impact on their job prospects -- especially in red states.
An analysis conducted by Carnegie Mellon researchers discovered that applicants who self-identified as Muslim on their social media profiles were called back at a lower rate nationwide by prospective employers than Christians with the exact same names and qualifications. And it's worse in conservative states.
"In more Republican-leaning states, only 2 percent of applications by the Muslim candidate received interview invitations compared to 17 percent for the Christian candidate," the study finds.
The report confirms the reality of day-to-day life for Muslim Americans in the post-9/11 era.
"In the years following September 11th, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported a staggering 250 percent rise in the number of religion-based discrimination complaints filed," the Center for American Progress states. "And while Muslims make up 2 percent of the U.S. population, they accounted for one quarter of the religious discrimination complaints filed in 2011."
The findings of the study are not surprising, given the barrage of media reports that tie Muslim Americans to terror plots, creating a false impression that Muslim Americans are prone to violence and anti-Americanism.
"Since 9/11, Muslim-American terrorism has claimed thirty-three lives in the United States, out of more than 180,000 murders committed in the United States during this period," stated a report from February of this year (PDF) by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security. "Over the same period, more than 200 Americans have been killed in political violence by white supremacists and other groups on the far right, according to a recent study published by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy."
And yet many non-Muslim Americans hold bigoted views about their fellow Muslim countrymen.
A USA Today/Gallup poll in 2011 found that almost three in ten Americans think Muslim Americans to be indulgent toward Al Qaeda. In a Gallup survey from the same year, one-third of Protestants and Catholics deemed American Muslims to be sympathetic to the terrorist organization.
Such prejudice has real-life consequences. Several individuals in the United States have been murdered since the Sept. 11 attacks because of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab hatred. Dozens of mosques have been vandalized, defaced or torched, while dozens of other proposed Muslim religious sites have faced strong community opposition.
Much of the anti-Islam feeling has been created by conservative lawmakers and rightwing media such as Fox News.
GOP lawmakers have spearheaded anti-Shariah law campaigns in several states, making an issue of a nonexistent problem. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King has held a series of hearings singling out Muslim Americans. And to take just one outrageous example of religious profiling, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and four other Republican lawmakers last year groundlessly accused Huma Abedin, a close Hillary Clinton aide, of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and asked the State Department to investigate her.
Such nastiness doesn't just poison the political atmosphere. It also affects the employment and livelihoods of ordinary Muslim Americans.
This is discrimination, plain and simple, and it's got to stop.
Photo: Flickr user herman yahaya, creative commons licensed.