Demographers disagreed over the significance of the findings.
New York, March 27 – A survey of people in the US and Scandinavia wearing a traditional Islamic garment has found that the majority of them do not adhere to the faith, but wish to show their sympathy with the plight of those facing anti-Muslim prejudice.
Pew researchers approached hundreds of hijab-clad people and asked about their religious observance. Their report, published this afternoon, indicates that 75% of those wearing the hijab do not practice Islam, but are covering themselves in that fashion to demonstrate solidarity with Muslims in the face of hate crimes. The poll also determined that up to 30% of those wearing the hijab identify as male. The poll’s margin of error was placed at plus or minus three percent.
Of the 544 hijab-wearers surveyed, 408 of them, or three quarters, insisted they are not Muslims, whereas the rest professed Islamic faith. Nine-tenths of those who declined to identify as Muslim described themselves as atheists or “culturally Jewish.”
Demographers disagreed over the significance of the findings. “I’m actually a little surprised the number is as low as it is,” confessed Linda Sarsour, a social justice activist. “With all the important work I’ve been doing to promote feminism, I’d have expected everyone would want to be a Muslim by now in some respect. I mean, I don’t think an entire generation of liberal Americans would adopt Islam all of a sudden, but this is more or less the direction I’ve been working in. Enforced Sharia is for a later stage.”
Others, however, downplayed the poll’s indicative power. “There’s such a pervasive fear of Islamophobia, you know,” argued Judith Butler, a Professor at New York University. “It wouldn’t surprise me if all those people wearing a hijab and denying adherence to Islam were actually Muslims who were afraid to admit it. I mean, it can be dangerous to do something Islamic in Trump’s America.”
Scholars cautioned against making too much of a single survey. “We have to know more before reaching firm conclusions,” warned commentator Peter Beinart, an authority on religion. “Walking up to hijab-clad women on the street and asking them questions, as random as it seems, actually skews the results. You have to remember that the devout female adherents of Islam will seldom venture outside, so the researchers were unlikely to encounter them – and if they did, their male relatives supervising and escorting them would have forbidden them from interacting with an infidel researcher, especially of the opposite sex.”
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