Anti-Muslim Attitudes Rise in Europe

Winter 2008

Prejudice against Jews and Muslims is increasing in Europe amid heightened worries about globalization and immigration, according to a new international poll. Nearly half of Spanish respondents reported unfavorable attitudes toward Jews, followed by 36% of Poles, 34% of Russians, 25% of Germans and 20% of French people interviewed, according to a spring 2008 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. In all of those countries, the percentage of people with a poor opinion of Jews has risen since 2006. While much of the upswing in anti-Jewish sentiment has occurred in the past two years, the increase in anti-Muslim feeling has taken place over a longer period of time, according to the Pew report. In addition, anti-Muslim attitudes are far more pervasive than anti-Jewish attitudes in most of the countries surveyed. Fifty-two percent of Spanish people expressed a negative opinion of Muslims, a view shared by 50% of Germans, 46% of Poles, 38% of French people and 32% of Russians. “There may be some backlash toward minority groups going on in Europe as a consequence of the EU’s [European Union’s] expansion and globalization,” Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center, told the International Herald Tribune. The attitudes reflected in the Pew survey have found expression in such events as an anti-Islam conference that took place Sept. 19-20 in Cologne, Germany’s fourth-largest city. But that gathering did not come off as its organizers had planned. Backers of Pro-Cologne, which had set up the “Anti-Islamization Congress,” found themselves massively outnumbered by roughly 40,000 protesters, some of whom obstructed train lines and roads into the city. Although the protests were mostly nonviolent, a small group of demonstrators smashed the windows of a riverboat where Pro-Cologne had scheduled a press conference. Because skirmishes continued between members of both sides, police shut down the event about 45 minutes into the Sept. 20 Pro-Cologne rally, according to Der Spiegel.

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Antisemitism and Islamophobia rising across Europe, survey finds

Antisemitism and Islamophobia are on the rise across Europe, according to a survey of global opinion released yesterday. In contrast to the US and Britain where unfavourable opinion of Jews has been stable and low for several years at between 7 and 9%, the Pew Survey of Global Attitudes found that hostile attitudes to Jews were rising all across continental Europe from Russia and Poland in the east to Spain and France in the west. The survey found that suspicion of Muslims in Europe was considerably higher than hostility to Jews, but that the increase in antisemitism had taken place much more rapidly. “Great Britain stands out as the only European country included in the survey where there has not been a substantial increase in antisemitic attitudes,” the survey found.

Antisemitism has more than doubled in Spain over the past three years, with a rise from 21% to 46%, the survey of almost 25,000 people across 24 countries found, while more than one in three Poles and Russians also had unfavourable opinions of Jews. In the same period antisemitism in Germany and France also rose – from 21% to 25% in Germany and from 12% to 20% in France among those saying they had unfavourable opinions of Jews. “Opinions of Muslims in almost all of these countries was were more negative than are views of Jews,” analysts said. While Americans and Britons displayed the lowest levels of antisemitism, one in four in both countries were hostile to Muslims. Such Islamophobia was lower than in the rest of Europe. More than half of Spaniards and half of Germans said that they did not like Muslims and the figures for Poland and France were 46% and 38% for those holding unfavourable opinions of Muslims. Ian Traynor reports.

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