Academic journal article Middle East Review of International Affairs (Online)

Muslim Immigration Continues to Divide Europe: A Quantitative Analysis of European Social Survey Data

Academic journal article Middle East Review of International Affairs (Online)

Muslim Immigration Continues to Divide Europe: A Quantitative Analysis of European Social Survey Data

Article excerpt

OBJECTIVES

In the novel Submission by the French writer Michel Houellebecq, the weakened political left in France teams up with the local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood to prevent the far-right Front National from winning the French Presidential election in 2022. The net result of this is the triumph of Islamism in the country of freedom, equality and brotherhood.1 Ironic and even cynical as the novel is, it could well portray the future trajectory of European politics, as judged from a thorough data analysis of European Social Survey (ESS) data.2 These data seem to suggest that there is at least a grain of truth in the social logic described in Houellebecq's novel: a weakened European social democracy, losing out its electorate to the far right, while depending more and more on the Muslim vote to win elections.

This article will assess significant European opinion structures in the context of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's policy of welcoming large numbers of refugees from the Middle East, North Africa and West Asia, a policy which gained momentum in the summer of 2015, and which has not met her promised objective of integrating these hundreds of thousands of newcomers into the climate and culture of the countries which have taken them in. This policy has caused a strong backlash, culminating, all across Europe, in the election success, one after the other, of far-right "populist" anti-immigration and Euro-skeptical parties and movements.3 In order to assess the underlying destructive dynamics of these events,4 which might even destroy the very trajectory of European integration, we employ advanced statistical data analysis from the publicly-accessible European Social Survey (ESS) project (interview waves of 2014), augmented by some global comparative data from the World Values Survey (WVS).5 Data from the ESS interview wave in 2016 has not yet been made available to the public as of this writing, so this preliminary data analysis constitutes, so to speak, photographs of the clouds of this very strong storm gathering on the European horizon in 2014-an early "X-ray" of the developing crisis.

BACKGROUND

The current European far-right wing electoral tendencies seem to contradict the results of a May 2016 poll commissioned by the human rights NGO Amnesty International suggesting that large majorities in many countries, including European countries, continue to welcome asylum-seekers.6

As of August 2016, all indicators were that the number of refugees would increase dramatically again in the final months of 2016 after the likely failure of the European Union and Turkey to reach an agreement on regulating refugee inflow into the EU.7 The anticipated breakdown of this agreement will mean revisiting the scenarios of summer and fall 2015, when hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers entered Europe, often without proper security checks and identity controls. During that period, voices warning about the political and even security risks involved in the context of the violently anti-Semitic global Islamist ideology were little heeded in several European countries, which continue to put into practice Chancellor Merkel's "culture of welcome. "8

First, to realistically highlight the grave security risks involved with the current situation, stemming from rising Islamist ideology, both "imported" and "homegrown," in the context of hundreds of thousands of newly-arrived individuals from Arab countries, the Middle East and North Africa,9 we evaluate some well-known surveys from the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) in Doha, Qatar10, as well as of the Pew Institute in Washington, D.C., on opinion structures in the countries of origin of the current refugee wave to Europe.11 By 2014, it had already become clear that largescale Muslim immigration from the Middle East, North Africa and West Asia would greatly polarize the European political systems, and that, in reality, no easy solution was available. …

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