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France

Poll shows mistrust of Islam in France, Germany

media The Grand Mosque in Paris Lionel Bonaventure, AFP

A new poll published on Friday shows that a growing number of people in France and Germany are uncomfortable with Islam and its visibility in their respective countries.

The study, which was conducted by the polling centre Ifop for French daily Le Figaro, found that 47 percent of French people and 43 percent of Germans felt that the Muslim community poses a “threat” to national identity.

Almost two-thirds of the poll’s respondents in France also said that Islam had become too “influential and visible”, whereas just under half of participants said the same in Germany.

Islam 'too visible'

The same study in 2010 found that 43 percent of French people viewed Islam as a threat, while 55 percent said that it was too visible.

A sample of around 1,000 people were surveyed in each country as part of the latest study.

The findings in France come more than a year after a total of 147 people were killed in a series of attacks in the Paris area by Islamist gunmen in January and November 2015.

“This poll reinforces the sense that the image of Islam represents a major challenge for French Muslims," Anouar Kbibech, president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (Conseil français du culte musulman, or CFCM), told Le Figaro in response to the survey.

"Considering the tragic events we’ve lived through, the risk of conflating [Islam and terrorism] is real. Unfortunately, this survey confirms that.”

Attacks only one factor

But according to the director of Ifop’s opinion department, Jérôme Fourquet, the recent bloodshed in the French capital isn’t the only factor at play.

“The deterioration of Islam’s image in France wasn’t triggered by the attacks, even if those events contributed to it. What we’re seeing is more of a growing resistance within French society to Islam. It was already the case among voters for the [far-right] National Front and part of the right, but it has now expanded to the Socialist Party,” he told Le Figaro.

While France has the largest percentage of Muslims in the European Union (estimated at 7.5% of the total population), Germany has the largest number of Muslims with 4.8 million people in 2010, according to the Pew Research Center’s most recent estimates.
 

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