Survey: Most American Voters Want to Ban Syrian Refugees but Not All Muslims

American Shiite Muslims march to the White House to protest against Islamic State, in Washington D.C. December 6, 2015. | (Photo: Reuters/James Lawler Duggan)

A new Quinnipiac University National poll released on Wednesday has found that while the majority of Americans believe Islam is a peaceful religion and are against banning Muslims from the U.S., more than half are also opposed to accepting more Syrian refugees.

"American voters are making a distinction between Syrian refugees and Muslims in general. A bare majority says keep the Syrians out, but an overwhelming majority rejects proposals to ban all Muslims from our shores," offered Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

"Concern about a terror attack is widespread, but it is more likely lurking around the corner than imported from a distant land an ocean away, voters say."

The Quinnipiac poll found that 55 percent of American voters who responded to the poll believe that Islam is a peaceful religion, though 28 percent suggested that it encourages violence.

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump incited a national discussion earlier in December when he suggested that all Muslims should be banned from entering the country due to security concerns, but 66 percent of voters said they would disagree with such a move – though 27 percent agreed.

At the same time, however, voters were fairly split on whether the U.S. should open up its doors to more refugees, with a slight majority, or 51 percent, saying they would oppose more people coming in.

In other questions, 52 percent of voters backed the U.S. sending ground troops to fight the Islamic State terror group in Iraq and Syria, though the majority, or 66 percent, said that America needs to be part of a coalition, rather than leading efforts against terror groups.

So far the U.S. government has been working with a broad team of international allies in carrying out airstrikes in Syria, and has not signaled an intent to send in ground troops.

The poll was carried out between December 16-20 of 1,140 registered voters nationwide, and has a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points.

Previous surveys, such as a December 2015 Public Religion Research Institute/ Religion News Survey poll, found that Americans are divided on whether Islamic values are at odds with the American way of life. The poll also found that Americans are almost twice as willing to link Muslim extremists with Islam than Christian extremists with Christianity.

While only 16 percent of respondents to the PRRI poll said that they actually know a lot about Islam, close to 47 percent suggested that Islam's values are "at odds with American values and way of life," while 43 percent said that they are not at odds.

A separate Bloomberg poll in November also found that a slight majority, or 53 percent of Americans, are opposed to accepting more refugees. Furthermore, while 28 percent agreed with President Barack Obama's current plan to hold no religious screening for refugees, only 11 percent said they would agree with allowing in only Christian refugees.

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