German mistrust of Muslims and Islam grows

Experts fear new conflicts after a study published this week showed most Germans doubt the Western and Islamic worlds can peacefully coexist. Mistrust of the 3 million Muslims living in Germany appears to be growing.

In spite of official attempts to promote dialog among religions, distrust of Islam continues to grow, with 60 percent of Germans expecting tension between traditional German society and immigrants from Muslim countries, according to an Allensbach study commissioned by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

“Germans are increasingly of the opinion that a lasting, peaceful coexistence with the Islamic world will not be possible,” the researchers said in the survey. Some 56 percent of Germans said they believed a “clash of cultures” already exists, partly a result of recent incidents that received a large amount of media attention, according to the survey’s authors Elisabeth Noelle and Thomas Petersen.

Deutsche Welle, 20 May

The Allensbach survey of 1,076 German adults in early May found that 83% of the respondents associated Islam with “fanaticism,” an increase of 8% from a similar poll in 2004. Over 71% believed Islam to be “intolerant,” a rise from 66% in 2004; 62% saw it as “backward,” up from 49%; while 60% saw it as “undemocratic,” an increase of 8% since 2004. Only 8% of the survey participants characterized Islam as peaceful. When asked what keyword or phrase they associated with Islam, 91% of respondents stated that Islam implied discrimination against women.

40% of the participants said they would favor curtailing Germany’s constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom of religion in order to safeguard national security. Asked if there should be a ban on the building of mosques in Germany as long as Saudi Arabia and other Islamic states banned church construction, 56% agreed, the survey found.

Jerusalem Post, 24 May 2006