Get access

Mobilizing opposition towards Muslim immigrants: National identification and the representation of national history


Correspondence should be addressed to Anouk Smeekes, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 2, 3584 CS Utrecht, The Netherlands (e-mail:


This research, conducted in the Netherlands, investigates whether people who do not feel strongly committed to their national in-group (i.e., lower identifiers) can be mobilized against expressive rights of Muslim immigrants when specific historical representations of the nation are made salient. Three experimental studies were conducted to examine whether a national identity presented as rooted in Christianity results in comparable levels of opposition towards Muslim expressive rights for lower and higher identifiers. Results in all three studies show that higher identifiers were more likely to oppose Muslim rights than lower identifiers when a tolerant or neutral historical national identity was salient. Yet, no differences in levels of opposition between lower and higher identifiers were observed in the Christian condition. These findings underline the importance of historical representations of the nation to understand the relationship between national identification and opposition to ethnic out-groups.