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SURVEY - EUROPE

Islamophobia and anti-Semitic views on the rise

3 min

Anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim feelings are on the rise in several European countries such as Spain, France and Germany, a recent survey said.

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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 46 percent of Spanish, 36 percent of Poles and 34
percent of Russians view Jews unfavorably, while the same was
true for 25 percent of Germans, and 20 percent of French.


Spain has not had a large Jewish population since expelling
its Jews in 1492. The other four countries have a long history of
anti-Semitism culminating in the Holocaust.


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 dimming compared to 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 in an interview the poll did not try to find out why
attitudes have changed but other data indicate negative attitudes
toward Israel could be driving anti-Semitic feelings.


He also said concerns about extremism and immigration may
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.


"There is a clear relationship between anti-Jewish and
anti-Muslim attitudes," the report said. "(Those) that view Jews
unfavorably also tend to see Muslims in a negative light."


The findings were based on interviews with 24,717 people in 24
countries earlier this year. The poll had error margins 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 Pakistani.


LESS SUPPORT FOR SUICIDE BOMBINGS


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-in-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. Lebanese Prime Minister
Rafiq Hariri was assassinated in a massive explosion in February
2004, setting off a wave of political murders.


The survey also said positive attitudes toward Osama bin Laden
have declined in several countries but the al Qaeda leader still
enjoys high support in Nigeria, Indonesia and Pakistan.


The poll also found:


- France is the most secular nation surveyed, with 60
percent saying they never pray and only one in 10 rating
religion as important in their life.


- Anti-Christian attitudes have been on the rise in Spain
where 24 percent now rate Christians negatively, up from 10
percent in 2005.


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

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