Muslims at prayer in a mosque in CologneImage: picture-alliance / dpa
Muslims in Germany
June 24, 2009
A report by the Interior Ministry shows that Germany's Muslim community is larger and more diverse than previously estimated.
According to the latest figures, Germany's Muslim community numbers close to 4 million people, or about 5 percent of the entire population. Past estimates put the number of Muslims in the country at 3.1 to 3.4 million.
Additionally, the survey funded by the Interior Ministry found that Germany's Muslim community is very diverse.
To get a better sense of the views and customs of German Muslims, researchers phoned 6,000 households with 17,000 residents. The pollsters asked a variety of questions, such as whether the family ate pork or drank alcohol.
Researchers found that 91 percent of Sunnis said they followed Islamic food and drink practices. For Shiites, the rate was 60 percent and for Alawites the rate was 49 percent.
A third of respondents described themselves as "strongly religious," while half said they were "relatively religious." Respondents from Turkey and Africa most readily described themselves as devout.
The majority (63.2 percent) of German Muslims are of Turkish origin, followed by Muslims from Southeastern Europe (13.6 percent), the Middle East (8 percent) and Northern Africa (7 percent).
Improving dialogue with Muslims
The German government funded the survey after complaints that there was no reliable information on the Islamic population or their views.
It was completed ahead of the last planned session of the German Islamic Conference (DIK) - a series of meetings between government and Muslim representatives that began in 2006 when officials became concerned about home-grown terrorism. However, it soon became clear that Germany's Muslims had other concerns they felt were not being addressed.
On the subject of religious education, the survey found that Muslim parents were bothered by the fact that while Christian children received religious education classes, religion teachers for Muslim children were rare. Fully 75 percent of those polled said that all Muslim pupils should be offered classes on Islam.
The survey also found that some parents objected to their daughters being compelled to wear bathing suits for school swimming classes or to sleep in co-ed dormitories.
Access to well-paid jobs remains a problem for Muslims in Germany, researchers found, especially since many Muslim students leave school before receiving their qualification.