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Negative notions

December 2, 2010

A survey recently conducted by the University of Muenster has found that Germans are considerably more negative in their views about Muslims and Jews than their European neighbors.

Interior of a mosque in Duisburg, Germany
Most Germans do not view Islam as a tolerant religionImage: AP

Germans view Muslims and their religion, as well as Jews, more negatively than their European neighbors, according to sociologist Detlef Pollack, who led a study on religious tolerance by the University of Muenster in north-western Germany.

"Compared to France, the Netherlands and Denmark, there is a more rigid and intolerant understanding of extrinsic religions in Germany," Pollack said.

Most Germans entirely disagree with a recent statement by President Christian Wulff that Islam "belongs to Germany," he added.

The study also revealed a more prevalent anti-Jewish undercurrent in Germany than in other western European countries.

A little more than 28 percent of West Germans and 29 percent of East Germans had negative attitudes about Jews, the survey found. This compared to about 10 percent in the Netherlands, 12 percent in Denmark, and nearly 21 percent in France.

The figures and comparisons were also similar for other religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism.

Germans view Islam as ‘intolerant'

The representative survey, which polled 1,000 people in each of the four countries mentioned, found that fewer than five percent of Germans thought Islam was a tolerant religion, compared to roughly 20 percent for the Danes, Dutch and French.

Women gathered at a mosque in Cologne
Germans are critical of women's rights in IslamImage: picture alliance/dpa

While 50 percent of Danes and two-thirds of the French and Dutch respondents approved of the building of mosques, fewer than 30 percent of Germans said they did.

In Denmark, France and the Netherlands, a clear majority of respondents viewed Muslims positively.

In Germany, however, only 34 percent of those surveyed in the west of the country and 26 percent in eastern Germany had a positive view of Muslims.

When asked what they associated with Islam, more than 80 percent said discrimination of women, 60 percent said fanaticism, and only eight percent of West Germans and five percent of East Germans said that Islam was peaceful.

Author: Gregg Benzow (dpa, epd, KNA)
Editor: Nancy Isenson