Survey: Europeans View IS as Top Threat

BERLIN (Reuters) -
FILE - In this undated file photo released online in the summer of 2014 on a militant social media account, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, militants of the Islamic State group hold up their weapons and wave its flags on their vehicles in a convoy on a road leading to Iraq, in Raqqa, Syria. The extremist group that once bragged about minting its own currency is now accepting only U.S. dollars in Raqqa, slashing salaries across the board and imposing “exit fees” for those trying to leave its domain. (Militant photo via AP, File)
Terrorists of the Islamic State group hold up their weapons and wave its flags on their vehicles in a convoy on a road leading to Iraq, in Raqqa, Syria. (Militant photo via AP, File)

Europeans view the Islamic State terror group as the biggest threat facing their countries, ahead of climate change, economic instability and refugees, a survey by the Pew Research Center showed on Monday.

Respondents in nine of 10 European countries surveyed said they saw IS, also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL, as the greatest danger, with 93 percent of Spaniards and 91 percent of French describing the group as a “major threat.”

Most of the surveys were conducted in April, a month after terrorists loyal to IS killed 32 people at the Brussels airport and metro. The Pew report was published a day after a gunman who had pledged allegiance to IS killed 49 people in Orlando, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Greece, struggling to return to growth after nearly seven years of recession, was the only country where respondents did not list IS as the top threat. Instead, 95 percent of Greeks said that global economic instability posed the greatest risk to their country.

Strong majorities in all 10 countries listed global climate change as a major threat, but the Pew survey showed stark divisions within Europe over refugees.

In Poland, 73 percent of respondents listed the arrival of large numbers of refugees from war-torn countries like Syria and Iraq as a major threat, the same percentage that listed Islamic State as a top danger.

By comparison, only 31 percent of Germans and 24 percent of Swedes said they viewed refugees as a major threat, despite the fact that these two countries have accepted among the most refugees per capita in all of Europe.

On average, roughly a third of respondents across all 10 countries described tensions with Russia as well as China’s emergence as a world power as major threats.

Poland was again an outlier, with 71 percent of respondents there listing Russia as a significant danger, more than double the percentages in Italy, France, Germany and Britain.