Anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim rhetoric is a core feature of European right-wing populists. Based on this observation, this study sheds light on the prevalence and socio-psychological drivers of anti-Muslim prejudice and it's relevance for right-wing populist parties' mobilization success. Right-wing populists were able to capitalize on anti-Muslim prejudice by targeting their rhetoric against a religious minority that is perceived extremely negatively by citizens. The socio-psychological drivers of anti-Muslim prejudice are multifaceted: They arise from collective identities, ethnocentric-racist worldviews, economis deprivation, but above all from realistic and symbolic threat perceptions. Intergroup contact, on the other hand, can contribute to a reduction in anti-Muslim prejudice. Thus, negative attitudes toward Muslims vary greatly in Europe and are particularly pronounced in Eastern European societies, where hardly any Muslims live. Voters of right-wing populist parties tend to have stronger anti-Muslim prejudices that the mainstream of society. This interrelationsship is robust and persists even when controlling for alternative explanatory factors, and it has developed from the presence of Muslims. Paradoxically, however, right-wing populists benefited from anti-Muslim resentment in places where hardly any Muslims live. The prevalence of an anti-Muslim social climate favoured their rise to power in Eastern Europe.
Pickel, Gert, and Cemal Öztürk. "Die Bedeutung antimuslimischer Ressentiments für die Erfolge des Rechtspopulismus in Europa: Konzeptuelle Überlegungen und empirische Befunde." In "Islam in Europa: Institutionalisierung und Konflikt," ed. Monika Wohlrab-Sahr and Levent Tenzcan, special issue, Soziale Welt 25 (2022): 303-55.