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Most—but not all—Europeans nations fear the influx of refugees will lead to more terrorism

Reuters/Rodi Said
An identity crisis.
By Aamna Mohdin
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The refugee crisis has seen a dramatic increase in anti-immigrant rhetoric across the continent. In eight of the 10 European nations surveyed in a recent Pew study, half or more believe the recent surge of refugees increases the likelihood of terrorism in their country.

France and Spain were the only two nations where less than half of respondents linked increasing numbers of refugees to increased risk of terrorism.

The two nations were the target of some of Europe’s worst terrorist attacks. The Paris attacks in November left at least 128 people dead and around 300 wounded, and came months after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo. A decade earlier, Madrid was the site of the most deadly attack to hit continental Europe since the end of World War II— 196 people died and more than 1,850 were wounded when terrorists targeted busy commuter trains.

Terrorism was not the only thing that worried respondents about the influx of refugees, many were also concerned about the economy. Half or more in five nations—Hungary, Italy, Poland, Greece, and Spain—believed refugees would take away jobs and social-security benefits.

The nations least concerned with the economic burden of refugees were France and Germany, the latter of which accepted one million asylum-seekers this year (and more than the US has in the past 10 years).

While a large majority of respondents feared that the increase in refugees would result in more terrorism, far less were alarmed that Muslims already living in the continent might sympathize with extremists. When asked whether many Muslims in their country support groups like ISIL, less than half in every nation polled said yes.

The survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center, surveyed 11,494 respondents before Britain’s shock decision to leave the EU and the terrorist attacks at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport. The countries surveyed account for 80% of the European Union’s population and 82% of the EU’s gross domestic product.

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