In recent years several European states have seen the emergence of ‘counter-Jihad’ movements, which in contrast to the established populist radical right eschew electoral politics and put stronger emphasis on mobilising opposition to Islam and Muslims. Despite attracting attention, counter-Jihad movements and the predictors of their support are under-researched. Drawing on a new survey and sample of self-identified supporters, this article investigates the predictors of public support for the English Defence League (EDL), the inaugural ‘defence league’ in Europe. Contrary to accounts that stress unemployment, apathy or single issues, it is found that support is concentrated among male workers, citizens with school-level education, who read tabloid newspapers and vote for right-wing parties, but who are not more likely to be unemployed, in social housing, have no qualifications or be politically apathetic. Foremost, regression analysis confirms that the strongest predictor of their support is xenophobic hostility toward Muslims, and ethnic minorities more generally.
- English Defence League