Wednesday, February 08, 2017

08-Feb-17: Migrant challenges, deep polarization and new findings in Europe

The shouting and name-calling on all sides of the ferocious debate over Trump's January 27, 2017 Executive Order halting all refugee admissions for now and temporarily banning travel into the US from Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Libya and Somalia ["Is this a Muslim ban? Trump's executive order explained", The Guardian, January 28, 2017] – reflects how deep the polarization is on the issues.

But it's not just the US.

A few hours ago, a UK newspaper published the findings of a poll carried out by the London-based Royal Institute of International Affairs - better known as Chatham House. The study, released yesterday, is entitled "What Do Europeans Think About Muslim Immigration?".

The data, based on polling done shortly before Trump signed that executive order, indicate that
majorities in all but two of the ten states opposed immigration from mainly Muslim countries... ["Most Europeans want immigration ban from Muslim-majority countries, poll reveals", The Independent UK, February 8, 2017]
Our brief summary of the findings follows. On the whole they seem to be strikingly decisive:
  • A majority of Europeans want a ban on immigration from Muslim-majority countries. On a pan-European basis, only 20 per cent disagree. Undecideds are 25 per cent. 
  • Overall opposition to Muslim immigration is "especially intense" among older people.
  • On average, 55 per cent of people across the 10 European countries surveyed want all future immigration from mainly Muslim countries into their own part of Europe to stop.
  • Ranked from most opposed to least opposed, the ban is supported by 71% of Poles, 65% of Austrians, 64% of both Belgians and Hungarians, 61% of French, 58% of Greeks, 53% of Germans, 51% of Italians, 47% of Brits.  
  • By contrast, a 2016 Pew survey showed unfavorable views of Muslims were held by 28% of Brits, 29% of Germans and 29% of French. Something's changed in the past year, and not for the better. 
  • 50% of Spaniards were said to have unfavorable views of Muslims in last year's Pew study, but yesterday's Chatham House poll findings put Spain at the bottom of the "immigration ban" support list with 41% favoring a ban.
The Chatham House people say their survey results were based on asking 10,000 people from 10 European countries. The results, in their words -
"are striking and sobering. They suggest that public opposition to any further migration from predominantly Muslim states is by no means confined to Trump’s electorate in the US but is fairly widespread."
Another commentary notes that
the survey found little correlation with the number of Muslim people already settled in a country.
Worth keeping in mind as coverage in the mainstream media and the social media keeps sinking to ever lower levels of fairness and mutual respect.

As a postscript, the parents of one of us (Arnold) who at the end of World War II were orphaned, destitute survivors of the systematic Nazi destruction of the European Jews (not threatened destruction but the actual thing - genocide) and desperately wanting to get away from Europe, tried to be admitted as refugee immigrants to the United States. They, along with most Jewish survivors of that period, were unable to get the necessary American approvals. (The doors of the United States were famously closed to Europe's Jews before and during the Holocaust.) They eventually found refuge in a remarkably hospitable country - Australia - leaving their son with a lifetime resistance to sanctimonious advice from Americans and Europeans about the moral obligation to give shelter to the homeless and imperilled.

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