by Andrew Harrod:
“Religious fundamentalism is not a marginal phenomenon in Western Europe,” concluded a December 9, 2013, press release of the Berlin Social Science Center (Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung or WZB) with respect to European Muslims in particular. The social survey results from six West European countries supporting WZB’s conclusion present troubling questions concerning Muslim immigrant integration into free societies in Europe and beyond.
As a WZB Discussion Paper explained, the WZB-funded Six Country Immigrant Integration Comparative Survey (SCIICS) involved a 2008 “large-scale telephone survey.” Respondents were “Turkish origin” and “Moroccan origin” people “who came during the guest-worker era” pre-1975 or their descendants. SCIICS surveyed both groups in Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, while insignificant Moroccan populations limited the survey to Turkish-descent individuals in Austria and Sweden. SCIICS sought 500 respondents from each group in each country as well as from a control group of non-immigrant descended country citizens, with the exception of Belgium with its “high degree of federalism.” Here SCIICS surveyed 300 individuals from each group in both Flanders and Wallonia provinces. Almost 9,000 completed surveys or 3,373 native, 3,344 Turkish, and 2,204 Moroccan origin, resulted.
For WZB study author Ruud Koopmans the results revealed unsettling aspects of Islamic belief in Western Europe as discussed in his article “Fundamentalism and Out-Group Hostility: Muslim Immigrants and Christian Natives in Western Europe.” Among other issues, SCIICS sought to remedy the deficiency that “very little is known about the extent of religious fundamentalism among Muslim immigrants” in Europe. A “large number of studies” on American Protestant fundamentalism, meanwhile, “have shown that it is strongly and consistently associated with prejudices and hostility against racial and religious out-groups, as well as ‘deviant’ groups such as homosexuals.”
For a comparative religious fundamentalism survey, SCIICS employed Bob Altermeyer and Bruce Hunsberger’s “widely accepted definition of fundamentalism” with “three key elements.” These are (1) “that believers should return to the eternal and unchangeable rules laid down in the past;” (2) “that these rules allow only one interpretation and are binding for all believers;” and (3) “that religious rules have priority over secular laws.” Accordingly, “native respondents who indicated” being Christian (70%) and “Turkish and Moroccan origin” respondents who professed being Muslim (96%) received three questions. These were (1) “Christians [Muslims] should return to the roots of Christianity [Islam];” (2) “There is only one interpretation of the Bible [the Koran] and every Christian [Muslim] must stick to that;” and (3) “The rules of the Bible [the Koran] are more important to me than the laws of [survey country].”
These questions revealed that “religious fundamentalism is not a marginal phenomenon within West European Muslim communities.” Almost 60% of surveyed Muslims advocated a “return to the roots of Islam,” 75% accepted following “only one interpretation of the Koran,” and 65% considered “religious rules…more important” than domestic laws. “Consistent fundamentalist beliefs, with agreement to all three statements,” existed among 44% of the Muslim survey respondents.
“Fundamentalist attitudes are slightly less prevalent among Sunni Muslims with a Turkish (45% agreement to all three statements) compared to a Moroccan (50%) background,” Koopmans noted. In contrast, only 15% of Alevi, a “Turkish minority current within Islam,” were similarly fundamentalist. The “lowest levels of fundamentalism” among the individually surveyed Muslim communities appeared in Germany, where a nonetheless “widespread” 30% affirmed all three statements. This result opposed the “idea that fundamentalism is a reaction to exclusion by the host society” given that German Muslims had the least legal recognition as a religious community among all the surveyed countries. Koopmans discerned “remarkably similar patterns” in other studies of West European Muslims such that 47% of German Muslims prioritized religious rules over democracy in both his and the 2007 Federal Ministry of the Interior Muslime in Deutschland study.
By contrast, only 13-21% of Christian survey respondents agreed to the individual statements, with fewer than 4% accepting all three as “consistent fundamentalists.” Corresponding “with what is known about Christian fundamentalism,” fundamentalism rates were low among Catholics (3%) and “mainstream Protestants” (4%). A “most pronounced” high of 12% occurred “among the adherents of smaller Protestant groups such as Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Pentecostal believers.” Thus Christian “support for fundamentalist attitudes remains much below the levels found among Sunni Muslims.”
Read more at Front Page
- A survey of Muslims in Europe (atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com)
- How widespread is Islamic fundamentalism in Western Europe? (washingtonpost.com)
Europe: Islamic Fundamentalism is Widespread (gatestoneinstitute.org)