Arab Americans sour on Bush

Published August 27, 2004 6:42PM (EDT)

Arab Americans, who supported George W. Bush in 2000, now hold "starkly negative views" of the president and plan to vote for John Kerry, states a new poll by Amnesty International and New California Media. "Experts say this shift could have a major impact in swing states with large Arab American populations such as Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania," reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

"'We have a poll that shows a strong rejection of President Bush's policies in Iraq, and a suggestion that we withdraw our troops as soon as possible,' said Sergio Bendixen, president of the Miami-based firm that conducted the poll."

Among the findings:

"73 percent of Arab Americans gave Bush negative marks on his Iraq policy; 60 percent rate his handling of Iraq as 'poor' while another 13 percent rated his performance as 'mediocre.'

"55 percent of Arab Americans say going to war with Iraq was the wrong decision, and 54 percent believe the president deliberately misled the public about his reason for going to war."

Interestingly, in spite of all the recent hawkish talk regarding Tehran and nuclear weapons, Iranian Americans maintain a more mild view of Bush's policy in the region.

"Iranians were less suspicious of U.S. intentions in the Middle East than Arab or Pakistani Americans and more willing to see Iraq as part of the war against terrorism. By contrast, less than half of Arab Americans and only one fourth of Pakistani Americans believe it is part of the war on terror.

"Arab Americans have experienced more discrimination and are over three times more likely than the non-Latino white population to have experienced racial profiling since the Sept. 11 attacks. For Pakistani Americans and for the Muslims polled, those numbers were even higher."

By Kevin Berger

Kevin Berger is the former features editor at Salon.

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