Around 50 percent of Germans are wary of Islam, a new study by a local NGO found. The pollsters blame the media for this state of affairs, adding that tolerance of other major religions in the country is much higher.
In a study on religious diversity conducted by the German Bertelsmann Foundation, one-third of the respondents see Islam as “enriching” German society. At the same time, half of participants said they view it as a “threat.”
The percentage of those skeptical about Islam is even higher in the eastern regions of the country – around 57 percent – even though fewer Muslims live there.
Meanwhile, Germans seem to have fewer reservations about other major religions. The study found that the “majority” of respondents are fine with Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism.
However, the “widespread skepticism about Islam” is not “necessary equated to Islamophobia,” Yasemin el-Menouar, a religion expert with the Bertelsmann Foundation, said.
“Apparently, many people currently see Islam as less of a religion but more of a political ideology and do not associate it with religious tolerance,” el-Menouar said, arguing that this attitude has been formed by news reports and political debates in recent years.
An imam at a Berlin mosque and Islamic theologist, Said Ahmed Arif, agrees that not everyone who is fearful of Islam is an Islamophobe. Negative sentiments are fueled by the “bad image” Muslims have in the media because of radicals who commit crimes, he told RT.
I’m optimistic that things will work out if both sides do their part to actively engage in dialogue and not in promoting fear and hysteria.
The study was part of the Bertelsmann Foundation’s ‘religion monitor’ research first conducted in 2017 and was based on a survey of 1,000 people across Germany.
According to German media, the total number of Muslims living in the nation of 80 million people amounts to about five million. Germany has witnessed a surge in anti-Islam and anti-migrant sentiment following the 2015 refugee crisis, when the nation took in more than a million refugees and asylum seekers, mostly from the Middle East and Africa.