Survey exposes hostility towards Islam in France

The role of Islam in France was once again under the spotlight on Thursday after right-wing daily Le Figaro published the results of an opinion poll that suggested 43 percent of French people believe the religion is a “threat” to national identity.

Six out of ten French people believe the influence of Islam in France is “too big” and 43 percent see the religion as a “threat” to national identity, according to the results of an opinion poll published on Thursday.

The sensitive poll, which will likely cause ripples in a country home to Europe’s largest Muslim population, was carried out by Ifop polling institute for Le Figaro, which published the results under the headline “The image of Islam worsens in France“.

Only 17 percent of respondents believed Islam “enriched” France’s culture and 40 percent said it was neither a threat to the country’s national identity nor of benefit to its culture.

Le Figaro‘s survey reveals French opinion towards particular elements of the Islamic religion is also hardening, with 43 percent of people questioned saying they were opposed to the construction of mosques compared to 39 percent two years ago.

The number of respondents opposed to the wearing of the Islamic veil or headscarf in public has also risen also risen from 59 percent in 2010 to 63 percent.

Two thirds of people surveyed said they thought French Muslims and people of Muslim origin were not well integrated into French society. Among them, 68 percent blamed this lack of integration on Muslims’ “refusal to integrate”, while roughly half said they believed it was a result of “insurmountable cultural differences”.

France 24, 25 October 2012

See also Reuters, 25 October 2012