Is Germany becoming more intolerant of Islam?

New survey shows around 60 per cent believe Islam is a threat.

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

30 May 2016

Fears have been voiced that a "large part" of the German population is becoming more intolerant of Islam.

It comes after a survey reported that 61 per cent of Germans believe that Islam is not compatible with life in the western world.

Some 57 per cent say they believe Islam to be a threat while 40 per cent say they do not feel at home in their own country because of purported Islamisation.


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Meanwhile a quarter of those surveyed said they feel that Germany should no longer permit Muslims to immigrate.  

The authors of the poll, conducted by German think tank the Bertelsmann Stiftung, said these attitudes are not limited to the margins of German society. 

"Neither political orientation, educational level nor social status has a significant effect on what Germans think of Islam. The more crucial factors are age and personal contact with Muslims," they say.

Of those respondents over the age of 54, 61 per cent feel threatened by Islam. Of those younger than 25, only 39 per cent express the same view. Fear is also greatest in those areas where few Muslims live. 

In the state of North Rhine–Westphalia, for example, home to one-third of Germany's Muslims, 46 per cent of the respondents say they feel threatened.

In Thuringia and Saxony, home to relatively few Muslims, 70 per cent feel threatened. Even though the vast majority of Germans - 85 per cent - say they are very tolerant of other religions, this seems not to be the case when it comes to Islam.  

Over one million refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East and North Africa have arrived in Germany since 2015. The majority of these refugees are from Muslim backgrounds.  

This, says the Bertelsmann Stiftung's Religion Monitor, is increasingly being treated as a problem in public discourse, "since affiliation to Islam is said to make integration more difficult and to harbour growing potentials for conflict."

According to the think tank's Yasemin El-Menouar, despite the fact that Germany's various religious communities are increasingly living together in harmony, the danger exists that a large part of the population is becoming more intolerant of Islam.

"Muslims and non-Muslims in Germany have a lot in common," she says. "That could serve as the basis for feeling 'we're in this together.' 

For that to happen, however, more people will have to recognize and respect Muslims and their religion."

Bertelsmann Stiftung said the findings of the survey show that the religious affiliation of Muslims is generally not a bar to successful integration. 

In 2014, there were 16.4 million people from migrant backgrounds in Germany, a total of 20.3 per cent of the overall population.

 

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