An Experimental Analysis of Muslim-American Attitudes toward U.S. Law Enforcement

Presentation
The Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University - November 13, 2013

How do Muslim-Americans form beliefs about the treatment they expect to receive from US law enforcement? The results of an original, nationally-representative survey of Muslim-Americans suggest two key findings.

First, expectations of fairness on the part of Muslim immigrants are shaped, in part, by the level of institutional corruption in their country of origin. Immigrants coming from less corrupt countries hold more optimistic views about expected treatment by US law enforcement.

Second, Muslim immigrants who have been naturalized are less trusting in the government than newcomers, and Muslims who were born and raised in the United States are least likely to believe that law enforcement will deal with Muslims fairly.

These results are robust to the inclusion of a variety of control variables. Ethnographic evidence drawn from interviews with Muslims-Americans suggests that Muslims update their expectations through interactions and familiarity with American institutions. US-born Muslims expect violations of their rights by the government and are politically concerned about such issues. Foreign-born Muslims, while aware of the controversies regarding US government surveillance and profiling of Muslim communities, tend to be less focused on issues related to citizen rights and more focused on the day-to-day concerns common to immigrants everywhere.

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