A majority of survey respondents in eight out of 10 European countries agreed with the statement “all further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped” according to a recent poll.
The survey, conducted by leading international think tank Chatham House, polled over 10,000 respondents.
The strength of agreement varied by country, with 71% in Poland, 65% in Austria, 53% in Germany and 51% in Italy to 47% in the United Kingdom and 41% in Spain.
An average of 25% said they neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement. In no country did the proportion of people who disagreed with halting immigration from mainly Muslim countries exceed 32%.
The results are stark. They indicate a Europe which is fed up with the problems associated with Islamist abuses: terrorism, rape, inter-communal violence and a population which is willing to countenance measures which previously would have been regarded as extreme to halt it.
High profile terrorist attacks have rocked Europe over the past two years. Attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the Bataclan theatre, the Bastille Day parade in Nice and a Christmas market in Berlin are among a string of atrocities which have made people angry.
At a vigil following the Nice attack, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was booed by the crowd who shouted, “You are the terrorist!” at him. An IFOP poll conducted for Le Figaro indicated that 67% of French citizens did not trust the government to deal with terrorism.
This is despite the widespread of troops.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s warm welcome of refugees and migrants from all over the world has soured with her constituents. Events like the mass sexual assault attacks on New Year’s Eve the past two years, for example, have raised public ire. Opposition to Merkel’s open door refugee policy was instrumental in pushing the populist Alternative fur Deutschland party to victory in elections in Merkel’s home state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
Opposition to immigration was already high in Europe before the current wave of mass immigration due to issues not purely related toIslamism, but over concerns relating to the economy, the amount of available housing and over what it means to have a national identity in an increasingly diverse country.
For example, the 2013 British Social Attitudes Survey indicated that 56% of the public felt immigration should be “reduced a lot” while a further 21% felt immigration should be “reduced a little.” In 2011, an Ipsos poll recorded over 65% of respondents from Spain, Italy and the UK as either partly agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement “There are too many immigrants in our country.”
Racism should also not be ignored as a contributing factor. Maajid Nawaz, an ex-Islamist and now counter-terror activist, describes inhis autobiography the horrific bigotry he and members of his Pakistani community were subjected to growing up in the UK.
A study done by Amnesty International recorded an 87 percent increase in hate crimes against racial, ethnic and religious minorities in Germany from 2013-2015. Similar increases were recorded by government officials after the Brexit referendum in the UK. A 54% increase in hate crimes was recorded in Austria from 2014 to 2016, which the Interior Minister explicitly linked to the migrant crisis.
While Europe has many issues besides the problem of Islamism to contend with that exacerbate anti-immigrant sentiment, the specifically anti-Muslim sentiment highlighted by this poll would be alleviated greatly by a more direct effort to tackle Islamist ideology as well as more concerted efforts to improve integration and build a more cohesive society.