Germans are on the whole tolerant – but not towards Islam. This is shown by a new study published by the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s "Religion Monitor". However, the study found that irrespective of faith, there is wide support for democracy in Germany.
According to the research revealed on June 11, the majority of German citizens – 87 percent – are open to other world views.
But 52 percent perceives the religion of Islam as a threat. For Germans living in eastern states, the number of people who feel this way – 57 percent – is higher than those in the west of the country where 50 percent view the religion as a threat.
"Obviously many people currently see Islam less as a religion than as a political ideology and therefore exclude it from religious tolerance," said the foundation's religion expert Yasemin El-Menouar. In her view, social debates and media reports in recent years, which often put Islam in a negative light, have contributed to these attitudes.
El-Menouar said there was cause for concern because these fears over Islam can be exploited by far-right populist groups.
According to the "Weltanschauliche Vielfalt und Demokratie" (World View Diversity and Democracy) study, 30 percent of respondents in the east of Germany do not want Muslims as neighbours, compared to 16 percent in the west.
Nationwide, the number of Muslims is estimated at around five million, with 1.5 million living in North Rhine-Westphalia, the largest number in all of Germany's 16 states.
Source: The Local