A new poll finds that most French and Germans believe Muslims have not integrated well into their societies. Many feel they present a threat.
The study by the polling agency IFOP and France's Le Monde newspaper confirms rising tensions in traditionally Christian Europe with its new Muslim population. More than two-thirds of the roughly 1600 people polled in France and Germany believe Muslims are not well integrated in their societies. Perhaps more troubling, roughly four out of 10 French and Germans consider Islam a threat.
Jerome Fourquet is deputy director of IFOP's polling in France:
Fourquet says the findings indicate that in France and Germany - two countries with very different immigration backgrounds - the sentiment is similarly negative about Muslim integration. He said a few years ago the immigration debate centered around security and employment issues. Now it's about national identity and the threat Islam poses to it.
The poll follows a hardening of attitudes toward Islam - Europe's second largest religion. France and Belgium have passed laws banning the face covering veil. Switzerland voted to ban the minarets on mosques. And far-right parties, most of whom have anti-Muslim and immigrant platforms, have made strides in countries like Sweden and the Netherlands.
Fourquet said IFOP would like to poll other European countries, and might find slightly different attitudes in places like Britain. But he believes the overall trend is the same.
But Fourquet said there is also a difference between perceptions and reality. The majority of Germans and French polled for example said they were not against having a Muslim mayor in their towns. The challenge, he said, is how to reconcile increasingly secular European societies with the Muslim populations in their midst.
January 05, 2010, voice of america