Anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish feelings are rising in several major European countries, according to a survey by the Washington- based Pew Research Center’s Global Attitude Survey. Mike Conlon in our Chicago bureau has summed up the report here.
Apart from the figures themselves, what struck me most was the way the study says the trends are moving. Pew said the upswing in anti-Muslim feelings came mostly between 2004 and 2006, with some falls since then, while the upswing of feelings against Jews has come mostly between 2006 and 2008. Is this matched by facts on the ground, such as attacks on religious people and sites or increasingly discriminatory acts or agitation against religious minorities? Or is this a change in mood that need surveys like this to be perceived?
The news media tend to focus on actual examples of such prejudices, such as the recent anti-mosque campaign in Italy or suspected anti-Semitic attack on a young Paris Jew, since these are news events that reflect prejudices. This is admittedly an imperfect measure (which, by the way, is one reason why we also report surveys like this). We don’t claim to be able to cover such events so thoroughly that we could track trends like Pew does. Even with that proviso, I’m not sure I would have said that Europe saw a surge of anti-Muslim feeling between 2004 and 2006 and a surge of anti-Jewish feeling since then. The evidence from actual events is difficult to read.
A certain level of prejudice and violence against both groups is always present. But events seem to point towards upswings in anti-Muslim feeling more right after 9/11 and then in recent years with the growing anti-mosque movement and the Prophet Mohammad cartoons controversy. As for anti-Jewish feeling across Europe, the upswing in actual anti-Semitic acts and rhetoric seemed stronger at the start of the second Intifada early in this decade. Maybe the fact that this poll series began in the summer of 2002 skews the data.
Do you see upswings in anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim feelings going the way Pew sketches them, or differently?