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Anti-Islam sentiment growing in Germany, study finds

June 15, 2016

A study by the University of Leipzig has revealed a growing suspicion and even hatred towards Muslims over the past two years. It found that Germans have also become increasingly skeptical of politics and the police.

AfD and Pegida demo in Mainz
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Dedert

The latest in a series of biennial surveys conducted by the university compared German attitudes, gauging sentiments about migration, anti-Semitism, sexism and the trivialization of Nazism.

Presented in Berlin on Wednesday by scientists Oliver Decker and Elmar Brähler, the research team found a significant increase in concerns about Islam.

More than 40 percent of the public think Muslims should be prevented from migrating to Germany, while around half of those interviewed said they sometimes felt like a stranger in their own country, compared to 43 percent two years ago.

Muslims break fast at Ramadan
Anti-Muslim feeling has grown over the past two yearsImage: Getty Images/AFP/J. Macdougall

Respondents also displayed more animosity towards other minority groups, including homosexuals and Romany people, also called Gypsies. Nearly three out of five respondents believed that Romanies were more likely to commit crimes.

More than 40 percent of those questioned said it was disgusting when gays kissed in public, compared to 25 percent in 2011. A third thought same-sex marriages, currently not recognized under German law, should not be allowed.

Litmus test for migration crisis

Reaction to the refugee crisis was understandably noticeable, after Germany received more than 1.2 million migrants over the past year. Around four-fifths of those interviewed said the country should not be so generous, and nearly 60 percent disagreed with the assertion that asylum seekers are fleeing persecution at home.

Confidence in socio-political organizations, including the police and political parties, has decreased significantly, with many people telling researchers they no longer feel represented by the political system.

Researchers said the development of liberal civil rights was not supported by all sections of the population, describing how a significant polarization and swing towards more extremist views had taken place over the past two years.

Growing support for right-wing parties including the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the anti-immigration PEGIDA movement was noted in the survey. They were picking up supporters from all socio-economic groups.

Authors of the study Oliver Decker (left) and Elmar Brähler
Study authors Oliver Decker (left) and Elmar BrählerImage: picture-alliance/dpa/K. Nietfeld

Prejudice not limited to East

Despite worries about foreigners generally being more associated with eastern Germany, the researchers found little difference between the two sides - nearly 23 percent in the east, versus 20 percent in the west. The one stark difference was the large number of under 30-year-olds in the east that display xenophobic views.

Also on Wednesday, a separate study by the polling company Allensbach revealed further skepticism towards Islam. Only 13 percent of those interviewed agreed with the statement "Islam belongs in Germany."

The survey, published in the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung," showed most Germans believed that integration could only happen so long as German culture remained the dominant culture.

Xenophobia in Germany: Interview

mm/msh (dpa, epd, KNA)