The recent survey, conducted in 15 Western European countries by the US-based non-partisan Pew Research Center, has revealed that people there have "mixed views on whether Islam is compatible with their country's values and culture."
The research showed that nearly a half (42%) of the respondents in these countries, describing themselves as churchgoing, non-practicing Christians or non-religious participants shared the point of view that "Islam is fundamentally incompatible with our values and culture.” While a quarter said immigrants from the Middle East are not honest, 38% voiced their support for reducing immigration.
Although majorities in the European countries claimed they wouldn’t mind accepting Muslims into their families and their neighborhoods, nearly a quarter of respondents rejected the idea of accepting a Muslim into their families. Italy with 43%, Britain with 36%, Austria (34 %) and Germany with 33% have the highest share.
The researchers state that “undercurrents of discomfort with multiculturalism are evident in Western European societies,” as most of the respondents voiced their support for restrictions on religious dress by Muslim women, many of whom fully cover their figures with burkas. Nearly a third of poll-participants in Italy, Belgium as well as a quarter of the Germans and Austrians surveyed, supported the prohibition of any Muslim clothing for women.
At the same time, nearly 17% of respondents said they are not willing to accept a Jew in their family. On this issue, Germany demonstrated the highest figures with 29%. Apart from this, the line-up is the same with Italy having 25%, while the UK and Austria show 23% and 21% respectively. Approximately 36% of Italians agreed that, "Jews always overstate how much they have suffered," which is more than in any other country surveyed.
Sweden showed the lowest tolerance towards nationalist, anti-migrant and anti-minority sentiments.
The study, dedicated to religious beliefs on the continent where Protestantism originated and Catholicism has been based for centuries, was conducted from April-August 2017 as the Pew researchers surveyed almost 25,000 randomly selected adults who described themselves as either churchgoing, non-practicing Christians as well as religiously unaffiliated. Despite the assertion that Western Europe has become one of the world’s most secular regions, the Pew Researchers state that “the Christian identity in Europe remains a religious, social and cultural marker.”
European countries have been experiencing a migration crisis since 2015 due to the influx of thousands of migrants and refugees fleeing violence from their home countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa. In 2015 and 2016 alone, over 2.5 million people applied for asylum in the European Union. This triggered public discontent over the incumbent European authorities’ handling of the influx, while more and more people are now supporting politicians with a conservative and Eurosceptic agenda.
The Alternative for Germany party, advocating tougher stance on migration, secured a historic third place in the 2017 Parliamentary Elections in Germany, while the conservative Austrian People's Party, led by Sebastian Kurz, won a parliamentary majority the same year. Just recently, the Eurosceptic Lega party performed better than expected during the Italian parliamentary elections within the coalition center-right Forza Italia and the Brothers of Italy movement, receiving 37% of votes, and received an opportunity to form a government in alliance with the Five Stars Movement (M5S), which garnered the best result in the elections with 32%.