I've understood for a long time that the United States seemed to be more supportive of Muslims and Islam in comparison to Europe, particularly among youth and more educated people, by comparing the views of Europeans with the viewpoints of American media.

But I've managed to also come across some polling data and journalism (from a media that's predominantly too sensitive about racial topics to address the issue) that support the theory that Islamophobia is more present in Europe.

The CSM explains that minorities in Europe are increasingly voting for far-right parties, including LGBT, Hindus, and Jews. This collaborates with my personal experience of discussions with other homosexuals and other Hindus.

The United Kingdom's Royal Institute also released polling data that visualizes a continent of people who are not opposed to any measures thoroughly banning migration from Muslim countries; interestingly, this is supported regardless of age or education level.

And I think there's also sufficient evidence to suggest that second generation migrants from Muslim countries also don't fare well in terms of popular opinion, regardless of age or education level, such as Yougov's polling for opinions on the British Pakistani Community.

Considering that similar sentiments lie in Canada and Australia, why is the United States unusually supportive of the Anti-Islamophobia Movement?

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    The question you come out with can only be answered with an opinion based answer as far as I see. No one can say why all of the United States generally supports anti-islamophibia, and there are even arguments that this isn't true (see: accusations by liberals of Trump's behavior). – David says Reinstate Monica Feb 15 '17 at 16:32
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    The question itself is very interesting @gayhindu but unfortunately, I have X opinion about this topic and could reverse your argument about LGTB voting to right parties considering my facts. Isn't better to ask HOW the anti-islamophobia movement have such support in the US? Given the statistic that you present.. – nelruk Feb 15 '17 at 17:01
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    You linked some sources, but none of them seem to support the premise that your question is based on (that islamophobia is more widespread in Europe compared to the US). Here is a Pew article which - while not ideal - doesn't seem to support the premise. Recent political events in the US also do not seem to support it. If you can't support this with sources, a better question may be if islamophobia is more widespread in Europe, not why it is. – tim Feb 15 '17 at 17:56
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    Please define islamophobia. Not every criticism of Islam is islamophobia, although some people will label even valid criticism as such. – Sjoerd Feb 16 '17 at 20:09
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    @Nebr: On the contrary, the claims are provable by reference to Islamic scriptures. Assuming of course that you are using the word "Muslim" correctly, as a follower of Islam, rather than as an ethnic or cultural descriptor for people who might be no more Muslim than I am a Christian. – jamesqf Feb 21 '18 at 18:16

There's no definitive or objective answer, but there are several factors:

  1. General attitude around freedom of religion and lack of religious discrimination in USA compared to Europe.

    There was far less Antisemitism in USA, vs. Europe, always. There were far less sectarian inter-Christian issues as well.

    The country was heavily founded on and internalized the concept of Freedom of Religion (it's the First amendment, after all).

  2. There are far less Muslim immigrants of first/second generation in USA, for obvious geographic and geopolitical reasons.

    In some way, this is a phenomena similar to the lack of antisemitism in Japan circa WWII - despite being allied with Nazi Germany, AND despite being a rather xenophobic culture overall (visavi mainland Asians and gaijin in general) - Japanese had remarkably low level of antisemitic sentiment.

    Even the few Muslims that immigrated to USA are sometimes often of the kind that Americans tend to have reasons to like - e.g. Iranian refugees fleeing from 1979 revolution have the benefit of being seen as allies.

  3. What Muslim immigrants exist in USA, they are comparatively much more assimilated vs. Europe.

    This is partly due to philosophical differences in immigration, with USA always having been pro-assimilation "Melting pot" model; and Europe has multiculturalism first.

    This blog post covers this - it's by no means authoritative but it was one of the first Google hits, so i'll be lazy and use that.

    The reason behind this isn't 100% clear but recent research into social capital, e.g. by Robert Putnam, indicates that there's negative effects from heterogenity - and assimilation assists with smoothing heteroginity out. Then there are more obvious factors, such as assimilation promoting social mobility in 2-3 generations.

  4. There's significantly less radicalization of Muslims in USA.

    Again, the reasons are likely complicated, but higher social mobility is at least partly the key.

    The main reasons that trigger Islamophobia are typically either fears of terrorism; or cultural clashes. Lack of radicalization lets people be less worried about existing Muslims (which is important - even the whole Trump immigration issue was very very very centered on new immigration from countries with poor vetting, with neither Trump nor anyone I'm aware of even thinking "well what are we going to do with those already in USA? Shouldn't they be deported too?").

  5. There are less organized low class issues (gangs, riots) among Muslims in USA.

    When Americans see a gang of hoodlums, they think Germans err wrong century Irish err still wrong century Italians err still wrong century at this point... Latin Americans, e.g. MS13 type gangs. Again, Muslims here simply benefit from socioeconomical factors listed before - they are reasonably well assimilated, not on the bottom of economic ladder, and there aren't that many of them.

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    I have to disagree in a couple of points 1) Arguable. Few politics in Europe would dare to say something like "'I will be the greatest jobs producer that God ever created', make a prayer part of their inauguration ceremony, or that God will/should protect the country. 3) There was no "model" at all. Governments simply took no action. Bigger immigration to Europe (specially to former metropoli) favored the concentration of immigrants from related origin (colonies) in the industrial belts around the cities. That concentration made assimilation more difficult,... – SJuan76 Feb 15 '17 at 21:03
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    ... as it sheltered immigrants from the local culture; but it was not a result of policies but a result of the lack of them at all and the different influx of immigrants at each side of the Atlantic. 4) The idea that USA has more social mobility than Europe has been debunked in studies en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – SJuan76 Feb 15 '17 at 21:13
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    @SJuan76: Re 1, Just have a look at the more conservative states, e.g Beata Szydło, PM in Poland. She's not just "Christian", she's explicitly Catholic. Re 3, the US had immigration quota per country which specifically prevented the type of problems that e.g. Germany has (vast majority of immigrants are Turkish - quota would have spread that) – MSalters Feb 15 '17 at 21:20
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    @SJuan76 - (1) you're confusing freedom of religion with freedom from religion. I won't even go into... well... let's just say Trump's life details don't lead me to believe in him being too observant shall we say? (3) I'll need to hunt up references but it actually is a deliberate model. That's not to say you're wrong; the way stuff happened over the years would have likely made assimilation hard, model or no model. – user4012 Feb 15 '17 at 21:33
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    @SJuan76 - (4) I didn't say USA has more social mobility overall. I said Muslim immigrants specifically have higher social mobility in USA vs., say, France. – user4012 Feb 15 '17 at 21:36

One obvious reason is terrorism. I am not saying that Islam promotes terrorism or that its adherents are more violent than people from other religions.

What I am saying, though is that there have been more terrorist attacks. carried out in the name of Islam, in Europe than there have been in the United States.

According to The Indian Express, there were 12 terrorist attacks in Europe in the first half of 2016 (through July).

Wikipedia lists 10 "Islamist terrorist attacks" in Europe in 2016 and 2 in the United States.

Again, I note this only to answer the question "Why is 'Islamophobiia' more widespread in Europe than it is in the US". Any conclusions beyond that are your own.

  • Ahem. 9-11. Boston. Your point was? – Martin Schröder Feb 18 '17 at 1:46
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    @Martin Schroder. I would have thought my point was fairly obvious. No doubt 'Islamophobia' exists in the US, but the OP asks why it is more widespread in Europe. More terrorist attacks taken in the name of islam over a smaller geographic area. Are you really surprised? – Michael J. Feb 20 '17 at 14:04
  • Some of us are old enough to remember the Troubles. This week it may be people identified as Muslims planting bombs, last week it was the Catholics. If you were in Northern Ireland it was also the Protestants. And the Catholics planted more, bigger bombs and killed a lot more people than the Islamists. – Separatrix Mar 9 '18 at 8:11

It may help you to know that the United States (US) has a native faction of Muslims. There are some black Muslims (e.g. Keith Ellison, a candidate for running the Democratic National Committee). Many of them have at some time been members of the Nation of Islam. Ellison was somewhat non-religious but of Christian background. Then he converted to Islam as a young man.

The two most famous black speakers of the 1960s were Martin Luther King, Jr. (a protestant Christian) and Malcolm X, also a Nation of Islam convert. Although Malcolm X was considered on the violent side of things during his life, since his death, there has been a movement to emphasize more positive elements. Part of this is that he moved that direction towards the end of his life and part is simply that people want to think well of him and accentuate the positive.

Another famous convert was Cassius Clay, who is better known as Muhammed Ali.

Most importantly, black Muslims have good connections within the black community. So non-Muslim blacks find it easy to link discrimination against Muslims with discrimination against blacks. Islam may not be mainstream overall, but among blacks it is more so. Also, this means that it is far more likely that someone known since childhood is a Muslim now (even if they may not have been during childhood). In Europe, a significant number of Muslims are immigrants from Turkey, not people that grew up locally.

There are also fewer Muslim refugees and immigrants in the US. Larger native population integrated into society; smaller non-native population that act like outsiders. It adds up to less feeling of otherness and more establishment support.

Some of the anti-Muslim prejudice in Europe expresses itself in ways that are legally questionable in the US. For example, freedom of religion is something that every US child learns is important in history class. Pilgrims! Puritans! Quakers! Also, clothing, particularly religious clothing, is generally held to be part of the freedom of expression protected under the first amendment (like free speech, press, and religion). So no hijab or veil bans.

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    Europe has a large number of native Muslims too, particularly in Eastern Europe, near Turkey. Europe is almost like India in terms of Muslims. – gayhindu Feb 18 '17 at 0:22
  • @gayhindu, nope. not true. European Muslims are mostly nonwhite immigrants and their descendants from their former colonies. In some isolated cases like Lipka Tatar, Bosniaks can be considered as native Muslims where they are either minorities or fighting for survival along ethnic faultlines. Turkish and Spanish Muslims have long been declining from Bulgaria and Spain respectively. – user17569 Mar 9 '18 at 3:36
  • Bear in mind that from a Sunni and Shia Muslim's perspective the NOI is heretical and decidedly NOT muslim. – Mayo Nov 26 '19 at 14:02

The above answers give a lot of information about the different approaches towards immigration in Europe and the United States, but they're all missing the biggest factor:

The US carefully picks which immigrants it accepts

North America is removed from Africa and Asia by a vast ocean, which means it can effectively hold a near 100% control over what immigrants arrive from overseas. In comparison, the EU is relatively close to Muslim-majority countries, which means their immigration laws are impossible to enforce without serious moral dilemmas. In addition European countries used to have vast colonies in Muslim-majority areas, which resulted in millions of Muslim immigrants moving to Europe with little vetting, such as the exodus of Algerians to France. And finally, Europe used to invite millions of temporary workers (which ended up staying permanently) from Muslim countries, such as the Turks in Germany.

To make things even worse, the complete lack of vetting at European borders results in a negative self selection: law abiding citizens stay in their home country, while those willing to break immigration laws would use any means available to reach European shores. This results in European citizens mostly seeing the "bottom of the barrel", while Americans are welcoming the "crème de la crème" of Muslim societies. As an example, Nigerian Americans are one of the most educated immigrant groups in the US, while British Nigerians are associated with crime in the UK.

You can see parallels to how Muslims are treated in Europe in how Hispanics are treated in the US. Since America is unable to enforce their immigration laws (however strict they are) at their Southern border, they're effectively forced to accept whichever people happen to illegally cross the border or overstay their temporary visas. The current US President probably wouldn't have been elected to his position if the US had an ocean separating them from Mexico.


One other reason may be the disparity in income and living conditions.

On a trip to France not long ago, I noticed that not only was there a substantially higher number of people of Arabic origins than I remember from a previous trip some 25 years ago, there were also depressed areas that were occupied largely by Muslims of middle eastern origins.

That's something that you simply never see in the US. The Muslims I know, encounter, or even just hear about in the news tend to be either professionals, or are otherwise gainfully employed in at least a moderately comfortable lifestyle. The Muslims in the US also tend to integrate well with the resident society, in demeanor and interests. They aren't threatening... they're too much like everyone else.

This contrasts with what I observed in France... in the poor areas, they tend to maintain their own distinct culture. Whether that is by desire or a result of rejection by the resident culture is unknown. Possibly a bit of both. Since many seem to come from former colonies, perhaps the centuries of colonization has left those people with a less than positive view of the resident culture.

This disparity in income probably comes from the strict entrance requirements for legal immigration (a demonstrated ability to support oneself) into the US, and the near impossibility of a poor person illegally immigrating from the middle east to the US, due to the expense of traveling over a couple of thousand miles of water, and the requirement for a valid passport and visa just to get on the plane.

Europe, on the other hand, received a number of Arabic Muslims from former colonies, and the illegal path is far more accessible to poor people. It's an overland route, or a much shorter water path from North Africa across the Med.

You don't fear the accountant next door that you celebrate national holidays with. You might fear poor and desperate people, who maintain a very different culture, especially if this includes the occasional terrorist attack on the resident culture. And you might be tempted to feel that your own culture is being displaced by something very foreign.

It's interesting to note that the poor Muslim areas in Europe can be conducive to radicalization and attacks on people of the regional culture. In the US depressed areas, the people just attack each other. I don't know what to make of that one.


You mentioned 4 countries here:

  1. UK
  2. Canada
  3. Australia
  4. USA

As far as I understand, there are the following factors involved:

  1. Percentage of the Immigrant population: the USA is like the UNO of ethnicities and nationalities as it has the highest percentage of the immigrant population in the world - 19.8% which helps them to see various communities in a somewhat egalitarian glass. If you look at the closest competitor of the USA in this regard are Germany(4.9%) and Russia(4.8%), they are also very tolerant of their immigrant population. UK, Canada, and Australia come at 5th, 7th, and 9th position respectively. They should have been more tolerant than UAE (3.3%), but that didn't happen because of the reasons specified in the next points.

  2. Colonial history of the UK: you need to be reminded that 18.9% of Canadian and 36.1% of the Australian population have English ancestry. Canada also has 13.93% Scottish, and 13.43% of the Irish population. British colonial history is fraught with the clash with Muslims. Take for example their colony in India (aka British Raj). Most armed resistances before the 20th century they faced were from Muslims. They almost stopped recruiting Muslims in the army and police after the Sepoy Mutiny (which was mostly a Muslim rebellion), and the Muslims were largely declined government jobs, and so on. During the 20th century, Muslims pissed them off by arranging Khilafat Movement (1914), Partition of India (1947), and so on. This generated intolerance in the form of social injustice, social injustice attracted trust crisis, then it transcended into terrorism, and the vicious circle goes on and on.

  3. Civil Rights Movement: before the 1950's, America had an overt and definitive white livery. But, after the Civil Rights Movement, their white identity has become covert. Society has become more tolerant towards blacks. This tolerance has also benefited various ethnic and religious groups including Muslims.

  4. Involvement with Arabs: unlike your other specified countries, the USA is engrossed in the politics of the Middle East (mostly because of Israel). That requires maintaining alliances with various Arab countries. Intolerance towards Muslims in the USA was mostly nonexistent before 9/11. Even today, USA's anti-Muslim attitude is much to do with security concerns rather than ethnic/religious tensions.

  5. Percentage of Muslim Population: only 0.8% population of the USA are Muslims. Most of them are Arabs who went there during the Cold War period to acquire higher education, or through diversity visa. In either case, they were comparatively much more eligible and capable.

  • "the USA is like the UNO of ethnicities and nationalities as it has the highest percentage of the immigrant population in the world" - This is incorrect. Saudi-Arabia, for comparison, has a quota of 30%. Qatar has 80%, the UAE about 90%. Given, most of them are migrant workers, but still they live and work in the country. – Thern Mar 10 '18 at 7:52
  • Yes, but you confused the columns. The USA has the highest absolute number of immigrants; 19,8% of all immigrants live there. But only 14.3% of all US inhabitants are immigrants, compared to 14.9% in Germany or 31.4% in Saudi Arabia. And I tend to say that the relative amount is important, not the absolute. UAE amounts to 3.3% of the total world population of immigrants, but 83.7% of all people living there are immigrants. It is just that the UAE are much smaller than the USA, so this has a lesser impact on the world population of immigrants. – Thern Mar 10 '18 at 8:02

Your question includes the expression "political correctness" which is quite vague.

However, a point dismissed by the other answers is the difference in the attitude of europeans and americans regarding religion. This referenced wikipedia article gives you a good overview of the anti-clerical tradition in Europe, which does not exist to the same degree in the US.

This can explain some publications that american viewers may view as "politically incorrect" (like the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, Charlie Hebdo being a left-leaning very anticlerical and anticapitalistic satiric journal).

It does not explain the bigotry labelled as islamophobia, but it does explain the critic of islam labelled as islamophobia (the link is an interesting speech about the confusion of islamophobia and critic of islam by western liberals whose main concern is bigotry).

Now, as far as support of a ban is concerned, the statistics you present are not incredibly different. 45 % of support in the US is not very far away from the average 55% obtained overall in Europe.

  • The major differences lie in the strong support for Islamophobia from the youth and highly educated, and from strong support in the ethnic minority communities. – gayhindu Feb 17 '17 at 22:43

There are two types of Islam; the religious doctrine and political movement. From what I have seen across this country the backlash stems from a resistance to the political rather than religious aspects of Islam.

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    I think if you posted this on islam.SE I would expect to find some disagreement. Also how does this answer the question? It's not clear if you are referencing backlash in Europe or the US either. – user9389 Feb 15 '17 at 17:04
  • I'm sure that you would also find significant disagreement with in the anti-Islam movement. The ummah concept explicitly conflates religion and politics. And practically speaking, the Turkish government runs Turkish mosques in Europe, turning that mix into reality. (Not singling out the Turks here, they're just the most outspoken) – MSalters Feb 15 '17 at 21:05
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    In the west we see be-headings on the news, people run down in the streets by cars, buildings destroyed and lives ended purportedly in the name of a particular faith. Whether or not these acts are committed by devout or "true" Muslims does not diminish the fact it is repeated (one could say ad-nauseum) by mainstream and fringe press alike. Repeat it enough and people believe it. Spread that view and you have an audience. – tmp Feb 16 '17 at 1:44
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    Muslims tend to have different view of what's right or fair. For example, they think killing cartoonist is a good thing. They may vote to make that thing legal. Obviously this would piss off whites and europeans – user4951 Apr 17 '18 at 6:28

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