Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are on the rise in Europe according to the Pew Global Attitudes survey (2008). Negative perceptions and views of Muslims range from 32 percent in Britain to 52 percent in Spain. As Muqtedar Khan writes,
There are many consequences for Muslims as a result of the growing Islamophobia, all of them impinging on the quality of the rights they enjoy. New laws that are being instituted or considered as a consequence of Islamophobia are undermining the liberal democratic culture of Europe and making Muslims second-class citizens.
At the same time there has also been a sharp rise in anti-Semitism in Europe, with increasing attacks and vilification of the Jewish community.
Anti-Semitism, too, has grown rapidly in the last three years in Europe. The same Pew survey reports that negative views of Jews are now held by more than a third of the population in Germany and France and by by almost half in Spain. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that anti-Semitism has been on the rise. It cites a study by the European Jewish Congress that found that in the first three months of 2009, there were twice as many attacks on Jews as in the previous year. The study pointed to Israel’s war in Gaza and a resurgence of old stereotypes blaming Jews for the current economic crisis as the main causes for the rise in anti-Jewish sentiments in Europe.
Most interesting is that the same Pew study also highlights that those who are Islamophobic are also anti-Semitic, which further strengthens a point that we have made many times over about Islamophobes; when you find one they are not just bigoted against Muslims and Islam but other groups as well. It also proves the lie to the claims by many in the Islam-bashing industry such as Robert Spencer, Bat Ye’or (!) and neo-fascist European politicians like Geert Wilders who state that the rise in anti-Semitism is correlated to the increase in the population of Muslims due to both birth rates and immigration. Again Muqtedar Khan writes,
Some commentators have tried to link the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe to a growing Muslim population there. But in Hungary, where there is hardly any Muslim presence, anti-Semitism is both more rabid and crude than anywhere else in Europe.
The fact that these two expressions of bigotry and racism are on the increase in Europe should be a clarion call to concerned citizens that these phenomenons must be challenged. It should also serve as an impetus for Jews and Muslims to work together so that Europe does not further slip into the abyss of extreme nationalism and discrimination against minorities that will slowly corrode the fabric of it’s democratic system — echoing ominous events from the early 20th century.