Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia surge in Europe: survey

We have argued before: “Classical” anti-Semitism and contemporary anti-Arab racism (and Islamophobia) are genetically linked phenomena. The fallacy is that just because one exists, the other doesn’t. On the contrary, the prominence of one should be seen as evidence that the other isn’t far behind. Here’s more evidence. From Reuters, Sept. 17:

Poll Finds Rising Antipathy Toward Jews and Muslims in Europe
CHICAGO — Anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish feelings are rising in several major European countries, according to a worldwide survey released on Wednesday.

The Washington-based Pew Research Center’s global attitude survey found that 46 percent of Spanish, 36 percent of Poles and 34 percent of Russians viewed Jews unfavorably, while the same was true for 25 percent of Germans, and 20 percent of French.

The figures are all higher than in comparable Pew surveys done in recent years, the report said, and “in a number of countries the increase has been especially notable between 2006 and 2008.”

Opinions of Muslims are also worsening compared with previous years, with 52 percent in Spain, 50 percent in Germany, 46 percent in Poland and 38 percent in France having negative attitudes toward them.

Richard Wike, associate director of the attitudes project, said the poll did not explore why attitudes had changed, but other data indicate that negative attitudes toward Israel could be driving anti-Semitic feelings.

He also said concerns about extremism and immigration might be a factor in negative views toward Muslims.

Britain was the only European country without a substantial increase in anti-Semitic attitudes, the report said, with just 9 percent in that country rating Jews unfavorably. In the United States 7 percent had negative views of Jews, as did 11 percent in Australia.

But about one in four in the United States and Britain thought poorly of Muslims.

The findings were based on interviews with 24,717 people in 24 countries this year. The poll had margins of sampling error ranging from plus or minus 2 to 4 percentage points, varying by country.

The most extreme anti-Jewish feelings, the poll said, were found in predominantly Muslim nations, where favorable attitudes were only in the single digits among Turks, Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese, and Pakistanis.

But in many predominantly Muslim countries there has been an erosion of support since 2002 for suicide bombing and other violence against civilians in the name of Islam.

In 2002, about three out of four Lebanese Muslims said such attacks could often or sometimes be justified, but the figure dropped to about one in three in the latest poll. The former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in a huge explosion in February 2005, setting off a wave of political murders.

Majorities in Indonesia, Pakistan, Tanzania, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Nigeria say they are concerned about Islamic extremism, the poll found.

The survey also said that positive attitudes toward Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda, had declined in several countries but that he still enjoyed high support in Nigeria, Indonesia and Pakistan.

See our last posts on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.