Surveys allow new insights into Europeans’ rejection of Muslim immigration

Official condemnation of the ban

In the aftermath of President Trump’s executive order temporarily halting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, the liberal media has often looked for European moral leadership in an age of Trumpism.

Many of the continent’s politicians struck a similar tone, arguing for the need to uphold European values in the face of xenophobia and racism. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, as well as the leaders of the largest factions in the European Parliament, emphasised the EU’s willingness to stand up for “European legal culture and fundamental values”.(( http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/20170131IPR60380/meps-firmly-condemn-us-travel-ban-in-debate-with-federica-mogherini ))

Similarly, the Bloc’s national leaders seemed to develop a common position against the Trump administration and its ‘Muslim ban’. At the gathering of the Union’s 28 heads of government in Malta earlier this month, UK Prime Minister Theresa May was rebuffed for what the continent’s leaders deemed her too concessionary stance vis-à-vis the incoming US administration.(( http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/eu-malta-summit-european-leaders-rebuff-theresa-may-bridge-donald-trump-us-angela-merkel-francois-a7561106.html ))

Sobering survey results

Against this backdrop, the results of a survey commissioned by Chatham House are sobering. Carried out between December 12, 2016, and January 11, 2017, the survey interviewed 10,195 participants from 10 EU countries, asking them about their preferences regarding Muslim immigration.

Across the continent, an absolute majority of 54.6 per cent agreed to the statement that “All further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped”. The strongest rejection of Muslim migration came from Poland (71 per cent), as well as Austria, Hungary, Belgium, and France (all above 60 per cent).

Only in Spain and the United Kingdom does the share of those supporting drastic immigration restrictions fall below the 50 per cent threshold. And in no country does the proportion of those actively disagreeing with the statement that “All further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped” rise above 32 per cent.

(Moderate) cleavages according to gender, age, and rural/urban divide

The survey results highlight that men are slightly more likely than women to favour shutting the door to Muslim immigrants (57 to 52 per cent). Among the 18 to 29 year-olds, the share of those supportive of a restrictive policy is lowest (at 44 per cent), while it is highest among senior citizens above the age of 60 (63 per cent).

Higher education levels correlate with decreased anxiety about Muslims: 59 per cent of respondents with only secondary education or less supported preventing further Muslim immigration, compared to 48 per cent of respondents holding a university degree. Finally, the rural population is slightly more critical of Muslim immigration than its urban counterpart.

While these factors are of interest, they nevertheless do little to change the overall picture. Across all groups and cleavages, there are solid majorities favouring a restrictive attitude to the immigration of Muslims, with only few categories falling below the 50 per cent threshold.

Comparison with the US

At first sight, these figures strongly mirror the opinions of the American public. In a Reuters/Ipsos survey conducted on 30 and 31 of January – i.e. shortly after the executive order was signed – 48 per cent of Americans asserted that they ‘agreed’ with the Executive order blocking refugees and banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.(( https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/02/polls-widespread-backing-trump-travel-ban ))

It is worth noting, however, that the Chatham House poll was conducted prior to President Trump’s inauguration and thus did not explicitly reference a ‘Muslim ban’. Rather, it spoke of curbing Muslim immigration in more general terms.

European support for the Muslim ban?

These differences in timing and in the question asked might have important repercussions for the interpretation of the survey data. Most notably, a position generally supportive of curbs on Muslim immigration does not necessarily translate into support for the US administration’s Muslim ban.

In Germany, for instance, 53 per cent of respondents expressed desire for a stop to the arrival of Muslims when questioned for the Chatham House survey. In an Ipsos poll conducted in early February, 2017, however, only 26.2 per cent of German respondents supported strict rules governing Muslim immigration on the model of President Trump’s executive order.(( http://www.wiwo.de/politik/deutschland/umfrage-deutsche-wuenschen-sich-mehr-trump-politik-in-berlin/19239790.html ))

This striking discrepancy might point to the fact that it is easier for some respondents to advocate for a blanket restriction on Muslim immigration as long as this remains a somewhat abstract policy. The concretisation of such restrictions in the form of the presidential executive order might drive home the starkness and injustice involved in such a ban. The recent events in the United States also provided powerful images of demonstrators and of families torn apart at American airports that might have swayed German public opinion.

Outsourcing the dirty work

Does this mean that the claim to moral superiority voiced by European leaders criticising the new American administration is justified, after all? Are Europeans and their governments true to their self-styled image of the upholders of ‘Western values’? – Arguably not.

Instead of stopping immigration at European airports – and thereby creating a media stir comparable to the aftermath of the US President’s executive order – the EU has relied upon agreements that outsource the ‘dirty work’ to third states removed from European shores and out of the sight of European citizens.

This is the substance of the EU-Turkey deal that closed the Balkans route; an approach that the EU now seeks to replicate with a second agreement involving Libya. Although the officially recognised government controls only a small sliver of the Republic of Libya, it has been identified as a suitable partner by the Europeans.

Nor have European leaders been deterred by the conditions reigning in the migrant camps in Libya, which a leaked report by German diplomats described as comparable to “concentration camps” in which daily executions are used “to make room for new arrivals”.(( http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/eu-malta-summit-leaders-warn-strand-thousands-refugees-libya-deal-concentration-camps-crisis-a7560956.html )) The European anti-immigration policies might be less eye-catching than Donald Trump’s showmanship; yet this does not make them any less deadly.

Virginia’s Eloquent Lawsuit Brilliantly Connects the Muslim Ban to Segregation

On Friday, a federal judge allowed Virginia to intervene in ongoing litigation over Donald Trump’s Muslim ban in order to protect Virginians who might be detained, deported, or denied re-entry under the executive order.  The state’s complaint eloquently explains why the ban infringes upon immigrants’ due process and equal protection rights while violating The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. However, the most striking section arrives at the end when the state invokes Justice John Marshall Harlan’s famous dissent from the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson:

This is a monumental case involving a monumental abuse of Executive Power. So it is worth remembering another monumental case, Plessy v. Ferguson, that enshrined in American law—for more than a half century—the approval of government-mandated racial segregation. The majority in Plessy reasoned that government-mandated segregation “does not discriminate against either race, but prescribes a rule applicable alike to white and colored citizens.” We admire the first Justice Harlan for putting the lie to that claim: “Every one knows” what was being justified, he said. The same is true here.

Confusion and caution: German Muslims and politicians react to Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’

 

The widespread confusion that has reigned since Donald Trump signed the executive order temporarily barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries on January 27 has not left German Muslims untouched.

Not only were a number of Muslim travellers from these countries left stranded at German airports as they were unable to board their connecting flights to the US after the order had been signed.(( http://hessenschau.de/gesellschaft/nach-trumps-einreiseverbot-stranden-muslime-in-frankfurt,transit-100.html )) The ban also impacts Muslims residing in Germany who have retained the nationality of their ancestors, as well as dual nationals holding a passport from the countries targeted besides their German citizenship.

Impact on dual citizens

Especially the issue of dual citizens has received heightened media coverage, since it meant that around 130,000 German passport holders were initially barred from entering the United States.(( http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/trumps-praesidentschaft/einreiseverbot-von-donald-trump-betrifft-deutsche-doppelstaatler-14797893.html ))

Among this group were a number of high-ranking public figures, including German-Iranian Green Party politician Omid Nouripour. Ironically enough, Nouripour is a fiercely atlanticist politician and the vice chairman of the German-American parliamentary cooperation committee.(( http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/donald-trump-omid-nouripour-darf-nicht-mehr-in-die-usa-reisen-a-1131900.html ))

Other individuals affected include Hesse’s economy minister and German-Yemeni Tarek Al-Wazir, German-Iranian Navid Kermani – a public intellectual and long-considered candidate for the post of President of the Federal Republic – or Aiman Mazyek, German-Syrian chairman of the Central Council of Muslims (ZMD).

Unresolved situation of Muslim residents

As the Trump administration appeared to walk back on some of the elements of its ‘Muslim ban’, dual citizens were exempted from the entry restrictions: US authorities confirmed that holders of German passports would be eligible to travel to the United States, irrespective of their second citizenship.(( http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/usa-unter-praesident-trump-deutsche-doppelstaatler-duerfen-wohl-doch-in-usa-einreisen-1.3358859 ))

No solution, however, appeared to be in sight for the Muslim residents of Germany, who – in spite of their often long-standing presence in the country – have not acquired German nationality. To them, the ban still applies to its fullest extent.

German Muslims’ opinion on Trump

Against this backdrop, it is all the more surprising that in a poll conducted between 27 and 30 January 2017 – and thus in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s executive decree – only 44.7 per cent of Muslim German respondents had a negative opinion of the Trump presidency. Among the overall German population, 68.4 per cent expressed such a negative view.(( http://cicero.de/berliner-republik/ciceroumfrage-klare-mehrheit-der-deutschen-gegen-trump ))

More than a third of German Muslims asserted that it was “a good thing that Donald Trump is President of the United States”. Beyond questions of statistical accuracy – with a sample size of 2,088, the share of Muslim respondents must have been small – political calculations detached from the ‘Muslim ban’ might also play a role in this assessment: many Muslim Middle Easterners were glad to see Trump triumph over Hillary Clinton, believing that the Republican would pursue a less interventionist policy vis-à-vis the region.(( https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/10/middle-east-donald-trump-president ))

Political reaction to the ‘Muslim ban’

The overall political reaction in Berlin to President Trump’s executive order has been more muted than might have been expected. Chancellor Merkel had her spokesman state that she “regretted” the ‘Muslim ban’ for its divisive implications. Yet when prodded by journalists the spokesman explicitly refrained from formally “condemning” the incoming administration’s move. Instead, the spokesman emphasised the need to analyse the situation and its implications. (( http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/DE/_ElementeStart/Sprecher_node.html ))

Merkel subsequently went on to take a more openly critical stance in front of the press, asserting that the fight against terrorism did not justify a general suspicion against people of a certain belief. She was nevertheless careful to guard her words, stopping short of openly antagonising the Trump administration.(( http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/angela-merkel-donald-trump-muslim-ban_uk_588f8483e4b0ce6c8c2cc69b ))

While the opposition was quick to castigate the ban, another leading conservative politician, Bavarian Minister President Horst Seehofer, strove to hit a more conciliatory line towards the Trump administration.

Breaking ranks?

Seehofer, a long-standing inner-party critic of Merkel’s immigration policy, lauded the new American President for “quickly and determinedly implementing his campaign pledges step by step.” While he asserted that he did not agree with all of Trump’s policies, he invited the President to visit Bavaria and demanded that Trump’s status as the freely elected representative of the United States be respected.((http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/horst-seehofer-lobt-donald-trump-a-1132190.html ))

Seehofer has a long history of challenging Merkel on foreign and immigration matters through well-calculated contacts with foreign decision-makers. In October 2016, he welcomed Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán in Munich with great fanfare; a move that was widely seen as a bid to undermine Merkel’s immigration policy.(( http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/europaeische-union/viktor-orban-besucht-horst-seehofer-im-bayerischen-landtag-14485223.html )) In 2016, he also flew to Moscow twice for talks with Vladimir Putin in what appeared to be open defiance against Merkel’s position on the Ukraine crisis and her support for sanctions against Russia.(( http://www.br.de/nachrichten/seehofer-russland-putin-100.html ))

This highlights that while in the days after the promulgation of the ‘Muslim ban’ the Anglo-Saxon media rushed to celebrate the Merkel government as the bulwark against Trumpism,(( http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/angela-merkel-donald-trump-democracy-freedom-of-press-a7556986.html )) the actual position of the Chancellor and her administration is much more complex. Rather than assume the mantle of the ‘Chancellor of the Free World’ in a determined – yet, from her point of view, ultimately suicidal – stance against Trump, Merkel may well opt for a more cautious course of action.

Theresa May repeatedly refuses to condemn Donald Trump’s immigration ban

Theresa May has repeatedly refused to condemn Donald Trump’s ban on refugees and entry for citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations after meeting with Turkish leaders.

She was speaking just a day after meeting the new President in Washington, where the pair pledged their commitment to the “special relationship” between Britain and the US.

After agreeing a controversial £100 million fighter jet deal amid wide-ranging purges and security crackdowns following an attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ms May held a joint press conference with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım.

Their talks were overshadowed by global debate over Mr Trump’s executive order to ban Syrian refugees from entering the US indefinitely, halt all other asylum admissions for 120 days and suspend travel visas for citizens of “countries of particular concern”, including Syria, Iraq and other Muslim-majority nations.

Yvette Cooper, the former shadow Home Secretary, sent a letter to the Prime Minister urging her to echo condemnation from French and German ministers over the “deeply troubling” executive order.

Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader, said the Prime Minister’s refusal to condemn Mr Trump’s Muslim ban “is shocking, wrong and cannot stand”.

He added: “It flies in the face of the values of people across Britain.”

Mr Yıldırım was more direct, calling the crisis a global issue and saying that UN members “cannot turn a blind eye to this issue and settle it by constructing walls”.

“Nobody leaves their homes for nothing, they came here to save their lives and our doors were open…and we would do it again,” he added. “If there is someone in need, you need to give them a helping hand to make sure they survive.”

Farage says UK should join the Trump Ban

Britain should follow Donald Trump’s lead and introduce ‘extreme vetting’ at the borders, Nigel Farage said today.

The former Ukip leader, a friend of the US President, defended the hugely controversial executive order that prevents anyone entering the US from seven Muslim majority countries for 90 days.

He said the US president is entitled to introduce the measures in a bid to crack down on any would-be jihadis entering the country.

Mr Farage, nicknamed ‘Mr Brexit’ by Mr Trump, blamed the ban – which has been condemned by leaders around the world, including Theresa May – on Germany’s open-door policy towards refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East.

Asked whether he agreed with President Trump’s executive order, Mr Farage told BBC’s Sunday Politics programme: ‘Well I do, because I think if you just look at what is happening in France and Germany – if you look at Mrs Merkel’s policy on this, which was to allow anybody virtually from anywhere – look where it’s led to.’

He added that President Trump was elected ‘to get tough, he was elected to say he will do everything within his power to protect America from infiltration by Isis terrorists.

The Muslim Council of Britain said the details of the executive order exposed that it was not designed to tackle terrorism but to appeal to right-wing supporters of President Trump.

‘Those countries whose citizens were found to be involved in terrorism in the United States are not on Mr Trump’s list, he said.’

Terror hot-spots such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are not on the travel ban list.

British diplomats, Muslim figures condemn Trump’s travel ban

Diplomats and prominent Muslims in Britain have condemned US President Donald Trump’s decision to temporarily ban all refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

Their criticisms come awkwardly just two days after UK Prime Minister Theresa May officially met with Trump, the first foreign leader to do so, touting the two countries’ “special relationship.”
Trump on Friday signed an executive order banning citizens from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan from entering the United States for the next 90 days and suspending the admission of all refugees for 120 days.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson described Trump’s ban as “divisive and wrong,” while London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the move was “shameful and cruel.”
But Prime Minister May refused to condemn the ban. Under pressure from British MPs, she later said the government does “not agree” with the executive order.
May also ordered Johnson and Home Secretary Amber Rudd to contact their US counterparts “to protect the rights of British nationals,” the Prime Minister’s office said.
When she had hoped to reap the benefits of rushing to America to shore up support ahead of a bruising Brexit battle, she’s being slammed to the ropes by the United Kingdom’s main opposition party.

Muslim Council of Britain’s Statement on Trump’s Muslim Ban: Time for our Government to Stand Up For British Values

The Muslim Council of Britain condemns the Executive Order by US President Trump to initiate a ban on people from a select few Muslim majority countries. It calls on our British government to speak out much more forcefully and stand up for the British values it supposedly seeks from others. For all intents and purposes this is a Muslim ban designed not to confront terrorism but to placate the most hateful sections of American society. Those countries whose citizens were found to be involved in terrorism in the United States are not on Mr Trump’s list.
Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain said: “This ban on Muslims is not only an inconvenience, it is downright dangerous to our values of equality and non-discrimination. We are told that British values include the rule of law and ‘mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith.’ And yet, our Prime Minister has found it hard to express these values when representing us on the world stage. At the same time, the ban will affect us here in Britain, as those with dual nationality such as Sir Mo Farah and Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi will also be affected by this ban. Our government should express in no uncertain terms how daft this policy is to its US counterparts, and press home how counter-productive it is in its professed fight to confront terrorism.

“In front of Mr Trump, the Prime Minister said that the point of the ‘Special Relationship’ was to have a frank dialogue. Well, this is one area where we need to be frank about where we stand. As an important ally of the United States, surely we have a duty to remind them of the values on which they were founded upon.”

Jean-Marc Ayrault speaks out against Trump’s travel ban

French and German foreign ministers met on Saturday to discuss President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on nationals from seven countries entering the US. The ban affects citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, and is in effect for an extendable initial period of 90 days.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said, “We have signed international obligations, so welcoming refugees fleeing war and oppression forms part of our duties. There are many other issues that worry us. That is why Sigmar and I also discussed what we are going to do. When our colleague, [Rex] Tillerson, is officially appointed, we will both contact him.”

The International Rescue Committee said, “The agency is calling President Donald Trump’s suspension of the U.S. refugee resettlement program a ‘harmful and hasty’ decision. America must remain true to its core values. America must remain a beacon of hope.”

French President François Hollande said, “We should engage in discussions that sometimes should be very firm … When he rejects the arrival of refugees, while Europe has done its duty, we should respond to him.”

Meanwhile, Trump has said the new ban is working out “very well.”

“It’s not a Muslim ban. It’s working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over. We’re going to have a very, very strict ban and we’re going to have extreme vetting which we should have had in this country for many years,” Trump said.

The entire text of the executive order can be read here. Although most media coverage refers to a ban on Muslim refugees, the executive order makes no explicit mention of Islam. It does, however state that “In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law.

“In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including ‘honor’ killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.”

Trump’s shifting position Muslim ban causes Confusion

NEW YORK — From the moment he first declared it, the plan has been a signature of his campaign for president: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
Yet from that first moment, the Republican White House candidate has evaded questions when pressed for details. Now that he’s a presumptive nominee with sliding poll numbers, his spokeswoman says he’s no longer seeking the ban at all.
 

Paul Ryan: Trump’s Muslim Ban Not Reflective Of GOP And U.S. Principles

House Speaker Paul Ryan may still be backing the candidacy of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, but the two top-tier Republicans continue to butt heads over Trump’s call for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration into the United States.
On Monday, Trump reiterated a broad, religion-based immigration strategy as the best way to protect against future terror attacks. (That’s despite the fact that Orlando shooter Omar Mateen was a New York City-born American citizen.)
Asked to respond Tuesday morning, Ryan said he stood by previous criticism of Trump’s stance. “I do not think a Muslim ban is in our country’s interest. I do not think it is reflective of our principles, not just as a party but as a country. I think the smarter way to go, in all respects, is to have a security test and not a religious test.”
NPR.org: http://www.npr.org/2016/06/14/482018791/paul-ryan-trumps-muslim-ban-not-reflective-of-gop-and-u-s-principles