Germans have become more intolerant of Islam in recent years and have developed a prejudiced opinion of Muslim immigrants, a new study has revealed.
A total of 57 percent of Germany’s non-Muslims said in Nov. 2014 that they perceived Islam as a threat - a rise of four percent since 2012, according to a representative poll conducted for the Bertelsmann Foundation.
Pollsters concluded in the organization's Religion Monitor, published on Thursday: "The majority of Muslims in Germany are devout and open-minded at the same time.
"Ninety percent of highly religious Muslims are very supportive of democracy, but this a fact little recognized by the general population."
A total of 61 percent of Germans said they believed Islam was not compatible with life in the Western world, representing a nine percent increase from 2012.
Forty percent said that they did not feel at home in their own country because of what they perceived to be the "Islamization" of the nation.
- Growing fear
Fifteen percent said Germany should no longer permit Muslims to immigrate.
About 20 percent of Germany’s 80.5 million residents have a migrant background; four million are Muslims.
Germany has witnessed an increase in suspicion and negative feelings towards Muslims in recent years as far-right and rightwing populist parties have sought to benefit from a growing fear largely influenced by reports of murders and atrocities committed by the Islamic State of Iraq, or ISIL.
Bertelsmann Foundation’s study indicated older Germans and those who had not had personal contact with Muslims were more intolerant of Islam.
A total of 61 percent of those over the age of 54 said they felt threatened by Islam while, out of Germans under 25 years of age, only 39 percent said that they shared the view.
Fear of purported Islamization has been greater in areas where few Muslims live.
- Prejudiced opinions
In the northwestern state of North Rhine-Westphalia, home to a third of Germany’s Muslim population, 46 percent of those polled said they felt threatened, according to the survey.
In states which were once part of communist East Germany, more people expressed concerns over perceived Islamization.
In Thuringia and Saxony, 70 percent of those polled said that felt threatened.
Despite negative feelings towards Islam among the general population, the survey revealed that such opinions were prejudiced.
The study concluded: "Most of the four million Muslims living in Germany are part of the country’s social fabric.
"Their attitudes and viewpoints very much reflect the Federal Republic’s basic values, such as a belief in democracy and diversity."
Muslims in Germany have close ties to the state and society, according to the report.
- Support for democracy
Among highly religious Muslims who were polled, 90 percent expressed support for democracy as a form of government.
The study also revealed Muslims had a strong interaction with non-Muslims in Germany.
Ninety percent of those polled said they had contact with non-Muslims in their free time.
Fifty percent said that they had at least as much contact with non-Muslims as with Muslims.
Yasemin El-Menouar, an Islam expert at the Bertelsmann Stiftung, said that while Germany’s various religious communities were increasingly living together in harmony, the danger existed that a large part of the population was becoming more intolerant of Islam.
She said in a press release on Thursday: "Muslims and non-Muslims in Germany have a lot in common.
"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," she added.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.