Terrorist Attacks and Their Consequences for Anti-Immigrant Attitudes of Religious Individuals in Europe

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Melville Room (University of Glasgow)
Verena Benoit , University of Bamberg - Bamberg Graduate School of Social Science (BAGSS)
From a theoretical point of view, terrorist attacks can be seen as exogenous shocks that have symbolic significance and trigger feelings of threat toward the position and the identity of groups. According to Social Identity Theory (Tajfel, 1974), individuals respond to threats that are directed at their group with increasing in-group favoritism and protective attitudes. This is complemented by Allport’s (1954) work on in- and out-groups, which states that individuals prefer the familiar, because it satisfies their desire for security. From an empirical perspective, terrorist attacks are closely associated with Muslim religious groups. This article combines both aspects and aims to answer two questions: How do the level of religiosity and the affiliation to religious groups affect attitudes toward different immigrant groups (immigrants in general, out-group immigrants, Muslim immigrants) in Europe? How have these attitudes changed after the terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo?

Overall, the analyses of data from the European Social Survey (Round 7) show decreasing anti-immigrant attitudes with an increasing level of religiosity, higher levels of negative attitudes after the attack and especially toward Muslim immigrants. Before and after the attack, all religious groups show fairly similar levels of negative attitudes toward immigrants in general and toward out-group immigrants. In contrast, the attitudes toward Muslim immigrants vary greatly, depending on the religious affiliation of the respondents. This is true for the attitudes toward Muslims before the attack on Charlie Hebdo as well as for the attitudes after the attack.

  • Benoit, Verena_2017-Terrorist Attacks and Their Consequences for Anti-Immigrant Attitudes.pdf (765.4 kB)