After the Islamic State’s attacks in Paris in November and in Brussels in March, European concerns that terrorists could be arriving as refugees have taken on new importance, especially as more migrants arrive.
The Pew Research Center, an organization based in Washington DC, interviewed more than 11,000 people in May and June across 10 European countries and in eight of those nations, more than 50 percent of respondents said they believed the resettlement of refugees in their countries would increase the likelihood of terrorism. That sentiment was strongest in Hungary, where 76 percent of people said they believed terrorism would increase with an influx of refugees. More than 80 percent of people surveyed in Hungary said they believed “refugees are a burden on our country because they take our jobs and social benefits,” a sentiment shared by 46 percent of people in the U.K. and 72 percent in Greece. The lowest percentage, 32 percent, was in Germany, which received the highest number of asylum seekers in 2015 but at the beginning of this year was rocked when groups of North African men committed a wave of sexual assaults against women in Cologne.
It has also been shown that there are widespread negative views of Muslims across Europe, particularly in the south and east. More than 60 percent of those surveyed in Hungary, Italy, Poland and Greece said they had an unfavorable view of Muslims. Older persons, those with less education and people who identify as political conservatives across the countries surveyed are more likely to have negative views of Muslims. However, the percentage of the people who said they believed most or many Muslims in their countries support militant organisations like the Islamic State group (ISIS) is less than half in all 10 nations surveyed.
For some Europeans, negative attitudes toward Muslims are tied to a belief that Muslims do not wish to participate in the broader society. In every country polled, the dominant view is that Muslims want to be distinct from the rest of society rather than adopt the nation’s customs and way of life.
However, attitudes toward Roma are more negative than attitudes toward Muslims. Across the 10 nations polled, a median of 48% express an unfavorable opinion of Roma in their country. The countries with the most negative attitudes towards Roma are Italy, Greece, Hungary and France.
The recent terrorist attacks in Nice and the shootings in Munich have caused many to believe that a reason for this has been the inflow of refugees into European Nations.
The Hungarian and Polish governments have led criticism of European Union efforts over the past year to distribute asylum seekers around the bloc, mostly from Syria and Iraq.
Asked for their view of Muslims, Some two thirds of Poles, Greeks, Italians and Hungarians were “unfavourable”, a view shared by less than a third of French, Germans and Britons.
The Hungarian Government has called for a referendum in October, on whether to accept the EU’s Mandatory refugee quotas. The government has a launched an ad-campaign across the country, to inform people about the possible consequences of immigration.