Fresh light on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Britain is shed in a report published by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Berlin on 11 March 2011. Entitled Intolerance, Prejudice and Discrimination: A European Report, it is written by Andreas Zick, Beate Kupper and Andreas Hovermann. It is available to download from:
The publication is based upon the Group-Focused Enmity in Europe project which is located at the Bielefeld Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence, and which has been supported by funding from a consortium of six foundations.
Fieldwork for the underlying survey was conducted in eight European countries during autumn 2008: France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland and Portugal. A sample of 1,000 adults aged 16 and over was interviewed by telephone by TNS in each nation.
Attitudes to various groups were measured, but this particular report concentrates on a sub-set of six types of prejudice: anti-immigrant views, anti-Semitism, homophobia, Islamophobia (or anti-Muslim attitudes, as they are termed here), racism and sexism.
There continues to be evidence of anti-Semitism in Britain, with 14% of adults agreeing that Jews had too much influence, 22% that they tried to take advantage of being victims during the Nazi era, and 23% that they did not care about anything or anybody except their own kind.
However, these figures were actually the lowest for all the eight countries, with the exception of The Netherlands. Britain and The Netherlands came joint first on a fourth measure, agreeing that Jews enriched the national culture (72%). Hungary and Poland were generally most negative about the Jews.
Levels of hostility rose somewhat when the question of Israel-Palestine was put to a half-sample. 36% of Britons said that, given Israeli policy, they could understand why people did not like Jews. Still more, 42%, concurred that Israel was conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians, which was a bigger proportion than in Hungary, Italy and The Netherlands.
Negativity towards Muslims was greater still. 45% of Britons considered that there were too many Muslims in the country, 50% claimed that they were too demanding, and 47% regarded Islam as a religion of intolerance.
These three items were combined into a scale of anti-Muslim attitudes. While Hungary and Poland were about as Islamophobic as they were anti-Semitic, the mean scores for the remaining nations were much higher than for anti-Semitism, Britain included. Portugal was least Islamophobic.
Other questions did not form part of this scale but, administered to a half-sample, reinforced the evidence of enmity. Only 39% in Britain felt that the Muslim culture fitted well into the country and Europe, and 82% viewed Muslim attitudes towards women as contradicting British values. 38% believed that many Muslims perceived terrorists as heroes, and 26% that the majority of Muslims found terrorism justifiable.
Anti-Muslim sentiments were shown to have an especially strong relationship with anti-immigrant views, and this was particularly true of Britain. The correlation between anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic opinions was less marked but still observable. Anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic attitudes had a relationship of medium strength.
Correlations with self-assessed religiosity were explored in a separate report on the same survey: Beate Kupper and Andreas Zick, Religion and Prejudice in Europe: New Empirical Findings (Alliance Publishing Trust, 2010), which can be found at:
Whereas, for Europe as a whole, the researchers discovered that ‘the more religious individuals are, the more prejudiced they are’, the pattern in Britain was more complex.
For Britons greater religiosity was most associated with sexism and homophobia, and – to a lesser extent – with racism and anti-immigrant views. In the cases of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, the very religious were the least prejudiced of the four religiosity groups but the quite religious were the most prejudiced.
Overall, 5% of Britons described themselves as very religious, 29% as quite religious, 27% as not very religious, and 38% as not at all religious. A YouGov poll of 5,000 plus respondents for The Sun last month revealed that 27% saw themselves as religious and 71% not.