Perception of Western governments' hostility to Islam among European Muslims before and after ISIS: the important roles of residential segregation and education

Peyman Hekmatpour, Thomas J Burns
British Journal of Sociology 2019 April 19
Perception of Western governments' hostility to Islam is one of the indicating features of Islamic fundamentalism and, in some cases, is serving as a pull to join extremist groups. In this paper, using data from two waves of a cross-national survey, we investigate what affects European Muslims' opinions about Western governments. We find that residential segregation is associated with perceived hostility of Western governments to Islam. Further, we find that Muslims living in segregated neighbourhoods and enclaves have a higher probability of believing that Western governments are hostile to Islam. National origins of Muslim immigrants have a significant impact, with people from African countries measuring less perceived hostility than others. We also find that education is associated with perceived hostility of Western governments to Islam in a non-linear way. People with the highest and lowest levels of education tend to be less likely to believe that Western governments are hostile to Islam, relative to people with mid-level education. This non-linear effect is best explained by education's differential effects on perceptions of key world events. During the time between 2011 - before ISIS's announcement of its Caliphate in Iraq and Syria - and 2013, subsequent to that announcement, we see a sharp decrease in perception of Western governments' hostility to Islam, particularly among more educated European Muslims. We make the case that this decrease can be attributed, in some ways, to the emergence of ISIS. We discuss our findings in terms of theoretical and policy implications.

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