German fears of Islam rising as anti-immigrant protests grow
A new survey issued at a time when anti-immigrant street protests in Germany are gathering pace shows that an increasing majority of non-Muslim Germans feel threatened by Islam.
Berlin: A new survey issued at a time when anti-immigrant street protests in Germany are gathering pace shows that an increasing majority of non-Muslim Germans feel threatened by Islam.
The survey, carried out by Emnid pollsters for the Bertelsmann Foundation think-tank, was taken in late November, before Wednesday`s mass killing in Paris by Islamist gunmen
It found that 57 percent of non-Muslim Germans said they feel threatened by Islam, an increase from 53 percent in a similar poll taken in 2012.
Some 61 percent feel that Islam does not fit in the Western world, up from 52 percent in 2012, and 40 percent said they feel like "foreigners in their own country" on account of Muslims.
The poll, released on Thursday, questioned 937 non-Muslim Germans.
A grassroots movement called PEGIDA, or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West, warns Germany is being overrun by Muslims and has held weekly rallies with up to 18,000 people in Dresden.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, in her New Year`s Eve address to the nation, urged Germans to spurn the PEGIDA rallies and said they were organised by people who have "hatred in their hearts".
The survey found that one in four in Germany even want to ban the immigration of Muslims.
There are about four million Muslims among Germany`s 82 million residents. About three million people of them are of Turkish origin, just under half of whom have taken German citizenship.
The survey said that Muslims living in Germany felt a close bond to the country.
Tensions have risen however after the number of asylum seekers arriving in Germany, many from the Middle East and especially Syria, jumped to 200,000 last year -- four times as many as in 2012.
The highest levels of fear were in regions such as the eastern states of Saxony and Thuringia where there are hardly any Muslims, the survey said.
Aydan Oezoguz, Germany`s federal commissioner for migration, refugees and integration, said the study showed most Germany`s Muslims are integrated with Western values.
"That 57 percent reject Islam is something we need to think about indeed," Oezoguz said. "The most decisive finding for me is that the aversion is greatest where the fewest Muslims live - a phenomenon that we`re seeing in the PEGIDA demonstrations."
She added that two-thirds of the people in those regions where the fears are greatest have no contact whatsoever with Muslims.
"It`s easier to feed prejudices from ignorance," she said.