Sunday, December 15, 2013

Islamic fundamentalism is widely spread

 
A Wissenschaftszentrum Bering fur Sozialforschung (WZB)* study shows significantly high numbers [of Fundamentalists] amongst Europe’s Muslims
 
Religious fundamentalism is not a marginal phenomenon in Western Europe. This conclusion is drawn in a study published by Ruud Koopmans from the WZB Berlin Social Science Center. The author analyzed data from a representative survey among immigrants and natives in six European countries. Two thirds of the Muslims interviewed say that religious rules are more important to them than the laws of the country in which they live. Three quarters of the respondents hold the opinion that there is only one legitimate interpretation of the Koran.
Moreover, these views are as widespread among younger Muslims as among older generations.

These numbers are significantly higher than those from local Christians. Only 13 percent of this group put religious rules above national law; just under 20 percent refuse to accept differing interpretations of the Bible.

For Ruud Koopmans, this powerful tendency toward Muslim religious fundamentalism is alarming:
“Fundamentalism is not an innocent form of strict religiosity”, the sociologist says. “We find a strong correlation between religious fundamentalism – actually among both Christians and Muslims – and hostility toward out-groups like homosexuals or Jews.”

Almost 60 percent of the Muslim respondents reject homosexuals as friends; 45 percent think that Jews cannot be trusted; and an equally large group believes that the West is out to destroy Islam. The Christians’ answers for comparison: As many as 9 percent are openly anti-Semitic; 13 percent do not want to have homosexuals as friends; a/nd 23 percent think that Muslims aim to destroy Western culture.

He conducted a telephone survey of 9,000 respondents in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Austria, and Sweden and interviewed both Turkish and Moroccan immigrants as well as a comparison group of Christians.

He then looks at hostility toward out-groups. Fifty-eight percent do not want homosexual friends, 45 percent think that Jews cannot be trusted, and 54 percent believe that the West is out to destroy Muslim culture. Among Christians, 23 percent believe that Muslims are out to destroy Western culture. Koopmans says these results hold when you control for the varying socio-economic characteristics of these groups (although the analyses are not presented).
Religious fundamentalism is the strongest correlate of out-group hostility both among Muslims and Christians. Fundamentalism here is taken to mean beliefs that believers should return to unchangeable rules from the past, that the Bible/Koran should be taken literally, and that religious rules are more important than secular laws. Although Muslims are more likely to be fundamentalist and hostile toward out-groups than Christians, there are many more Christians in these countries. So, the overall numbers of Christians who feel hostile toward Muslims still vastly outnumber the Muslims who believe the West is out to destroy Muslim culture. This accounts for the success of extremist parties in many of the countries in which the survey was conducted. It may be that Muslim perceptions are partially a response to this but we can’t tell. (The study, as far as I can tell, has little to say about the sources of these attitudes).
...the finding that 54 percent of Muslims in these six Western European countries believe that the West is out to destroy Muslim culture can hardly be ignored. A Dutch newspaper, Trouw, cites Arabist Jan Jaap de Ruiter who argues that Muslims have a tendency to give “socially desirable” answers to survey questions. Even if this is true, I’d still be very concerned that the apparent socially desirable answer is that Jews should not be trusted and that the West is out to get Muslims. An added concern is the absence of generational differences in the survey responses; suggesting that this is not an issue that is likely to go away any time soon.

The Six Country Immigrant Integration Comparative Survey collected data in more than 9,000 telephone interviews in Germany, France, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium and Sweden. The respondents were Turkish and Moroccan immigrants, as well as control groups of natives. This study is the first that allows analysis on an empirical base of the extent and impact of religious fundamentalism.
 
Ruud Koopmans’ article “Fundamentalism and out-group hostility. Comparing Muslims and Christians in Europe” has just been published in the December issue of the quarterly WZB-Mitteilungen. The issue presents various contributions on migration and integration topics, mainly in German. Read the full article (PDF).

*The WZB was founded in 1969 by members of the German parliament from all parties. The WZB is funded by the Federal government and the state of Berlin.
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