Two polls released this week both ask a question that you would hope wouldn’t need asking: how many people support the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)? Unfortunately, in all four countries surveyed, the answer is greater than zero, and by a lot.
This is alarming, in part because a growing number of Europeans, often from predominantly Muslim immigrant communities, are not just expressing their support for ISIS in polls: they are traveling to Syria and Iraq to join up. The ISIS fighter who killed American journalist James Foley on video last week spoke with a strong London accent. European governments are rightly worried about the implications of this for their own national security.
But there’s more going on here. It’s no secret that far-right politics have been on the rise in Western Europe, which includes a growing willingness to embrace extremism and greater intolerance of all kinds. It is ironic but by no means impossible that far-right Islamophobia would rise in Europe alongside a greater approval of the Islamist group ISIS. Extremism is often reactive and ideologically contradictory.