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Terrorism, migration trouble many in Europe

Staff Writer |
Worries about terrorism and immigration levels fueled the rise of nationalist parties that shook up European politics in 2016.

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Across 14 European countries that Gallup surveyed last year, a median of 66% of residents say acts of terrorism by non-residents are a serious problem in their country, and 64% say the same about resident-perpetrated terrorist acts.

Concerns about immigration levels are less common: A median of 55% of residents say current immigration levels are a serious problem in their countries.

Debate within the European Union has been growing in recent weeks about badly needed reforms to the bloc's asylum policy.

The EU's governing body wants most member states to accept more refugees to take some of the burden off front-line countries such as Malta, Greece and Italy.

However, this idea has been met at times with resistance or outright refusal, with some leaders voicing the fear that - as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban put it - migration is a "Trojan horse" for terrorists seeking entry into the EU.

The threat of terrorism may be linked - at least in the public's mind - to public support for anti-immigration policies.

The percentage of residents who say their country's level of immigration is a "serious problem" varies widely, from 86% in Malta, where it outweighs concerns about terrorism, to 18% in Iceland.

Residents' tendency to view immigration as a serious problem in their country rises with their likelihood to describe terrorist attacks - by either residents or non-residents - the same way, even though some of the recent attacks in Europe have been carried out by native-born residents rather than recent migrants.

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