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12 Jul, 2016 05:05

Over half of Europeans link terrorism to refugee influx – PEW survey

Over half of Europeans link terrorism to refugee influx – PEW survey

Nearly 60 percent of Europeans believe the threat of terrorism increases as more refugees arrive in their countries, a PEW survey has found. Half of respondents also see them as an economic “burden” because “they take our jobs and social benefits.”

A Pew Research Center survey, published on Monday, showed that the majority of people polled in 10 European countries, which accounts for 80 percent of the EU population, seems to mistrust refugees.

In Germany, which took in over 1 million refugees last year and has seen a surge in support for right-wing parties, 61 percent of those polled connects an increase in the “likelihood of terrorism” to the refugee crisis, while in France, which has been in a state of emergency since the deadly November terror attacks, 46 percent see the parallels between the two.

Some Eastern European countries, namely Hungary and Poland, topped the list, with a staggering 76 percent of Hungarians and 71 percent of Poles linking increasing terror activity to uncontrollable refugee flows. The two are also among the countries most concerned with the economic repercussions of the refugee crisis, as 82 percent of Hungarians, 72 of Greeks, and 75 percent of Poles appear to hold the view that the incomers deprive them of jobs and social benefits. Over a half of French citizens sided with this view, while only 31 percent of Germans did so.

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Moreover, “Sweden and Germany are the only countries where at least half say refugees make their nation stronger because of their work and talents,” the PEW report on the survey reads. While Germany has accommodated more refugees in sheer number, Sweden has taken in more refugees per capita than any other country in Europe.

However, even in seemingly refugee-friendly Germany and Sweden, the majority of respondents did not believe Muslims were capable of smoothly integrating into European society. Some 61 percent of Germans and half of Swedes believe that the majority of Muslims already living in their countries prefer to remain “distinct from the larger society” rather than adopt the customs of the nation they are living in. High in the rankings is also Greece, along with Spain and Italy, where “six-in-ten or more” held the same view.

While Hungarians and Poles are most likely to express concern over the security challenges posed to their countries by refugees, they also have a less favorable attitude towards the Muslims living in their own countries, along with Italy and Greece. A total of 72 percent of Hungarians, 69 percent of Italians, 66 and 65 percent of Poles and Greeks respectively held an unfavorable view of Muslim residents of their countries. However, less than one-third of French, Germans and Brits shared that attitude.

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Researchers commented on the controversial results by saying they registered a deep division within the societies of all the countries surveyed.

“On nearly all of the questions analyzed in this report, people on the ideological right express more concerns about refugees, more negative attitudes toward minorities and less enthusiasm for a diverse society,” the report says.

The timing of the report coincides with the statement by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who admitted the terrorists had infiltrated Europe disguised as refugees. “In part, the refugee flow was even used to smuggle terrorists,” she said, addressing supporters of her Christian Democrat Union party on Monday.

Terror attacks in neighboring European countries and the influx of migrants have made Germans more fearful over the year, an annual study by insurer R+V shows. According to the survey of 2,400 Germans, which was released on Tuesday, the ‘fear index’ in the country increased by a "drastic" 10 percentage points, Reuters reported citing the poll organizers.

The top concern among Germans is terrorism, the survey shows, with 73 percent of respondents worried by it, compared to 52 percent last year. The fear that migration could cause tensions within the country has seen an 18 percent jump, with 67 percent now anxious about that issue.

Last week, Germany’s intelligence chief Hans Georg Maassen confirmed the intelligence had obtained data on 17 Islamic State militants sneaking into Europe via refugee routes.