British attitudes on national identity and religious minorities not unique in EU

Source: Pew Research Center

Two women watch a 2017 parade in honor of St. George, England’s patron saint. His emblem, a red cross on a white background, is the flag of England. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Among the many reported reasons people in the United Kingdom voted in 2016 to leave the European Union are a sense of eroding national identity and increasingly negative attitudes toward religious minorities, particularly Muslims. But on these topics, British public opinion is not outside the EU mainstream, according to a recent Pew Research Center study. In fact, in a 2017 survey that asked about these issues, the views of British adults align very closely to general opinion across the EU, even though no other country has yet voted to leave.

While a majority of British adults say that being born in their country and having family background from their country are important to truly share their national identity (57% and 58%, respectively), six-in-ten people across the EU also hold those views (both medians of 62%). And roughly one-third of people in both the UK and the EU would not be willing to have a Muslim family member (36% and median of 35%, respectively).

Indeed, while the British frequently are near the middle of EU opinion on some topics that featured in Brexit debates, other EU countries have much higher levels of nationalist feeling and anti-religious minority sentiment. For example, roughly eight-in-ten Czechs say they would be unwilling to have a Muslim family member (79% vs. 36% in the UK). And two-thirds of Romanians agree that, “Our people are not perfect, but our culture is superior to others” (66% vs. 46% in the UK).

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Categories: Europe, Minorities, Religion

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