Anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim attitudes seen rising in Europe
CHICAGO (Reuters) - 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 Centre's global attitude survey found 46 percent of Spanish, 36 percent of Poles and 34 percent of Russians view Jews unfavourably, 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 unfavourably. 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 unfavourably 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 favourable 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.
(Editing by Andrew Stern)
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