Half of Europeans say Islam is a religion of intolerance

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, a social democratic foundation based in Berlin, has published “Intolerance, Prejudice and Discrimination: A European Report” covering eight European countries (Germany, Britain, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Poland and Hungary). It includes the results of a survey of over 8000 Europeans.

Certain views were strongly supported by the peopled surveyed: around 50% percent claim their country hosts too many immigrants, between 17% (Netherlands) and 70% (Poland) supported anti-Semitic statements, and 33% believe in a natural hierarchy between ethnicities.

Islam also plays a large role, with 50% of participants claiming that it is a religion of intolerance.

The full report is available here

The results regarding Muslims are summarised below

Number of Muslims in Europe

Table 1 shows the % of the population that is Muslim in the five countries that have Muslim populations larger than 1% of their total.

Table 1: Migrants & Muslims in Europe

Migrants & Muslims in Europe (% of population)
Country Muslims Migrants Main Countries of origin
France 10.0 10.4 North Africa, esp. Algeria
Germany 7.0 12.3 Turkey, former Soviet Union, eastern Europe
Great Britain 4.0 9.1 South East Asia, Pakistan, Caribbean islands, Poland
Italy 2.1 4.3 Balkan states incl. Romania, Africa
Netherlands 6.0 10.1 Indonesia, Surinam, Morocco,Turkey

Anti-Muslim Attitudes

After statistical testing, three opinion statements were selected for examination in the survey.

They cover (1) the general impression that there are too many Muslims in the country, (2) the charge that Muslims make too many demands, and (3) broad-brush criticism of Islam as a religion of intolerance.

Four further statements were surveyed in a random half of the sample.

These cover a positive attitude that sees Muslims as an enrichment and the idea that there are great cultural differences between the majority society and Muslims, especially concerning attitudes towards women. We also surveyed the idea that Muslims generally support and condone terrorism.

In most of the countries a majority believe Islam to be a religion of intolerance, with agreement just below 50 percent only in Great Britain and the Netherlands. In almost all the countries more than half of respondents said that Muslims make too many demands.

Table 2: Anti-Muslim Statements – % Agreeing

Anti-Muslim statements (% in agreement)
Item D GB F NL I
There are too many Muslims in [country] 46.1 44.7 36.2 41.5 49.7
Muslims are too demanding 54.1 50.0 52.8 51.8 64.7
Islam is a religion of intolerance 52.5 47.2 52.3 46.7 60.4
The Muslim culture fits well into [country/Europe] 16.6 39.0 49.8 38.7 27.4
Muslims’ attitudes towards women contradict our values 76.1 81.5 78.8 78.2 82.2
Many Muslims perceive terrorists as heroes 27.9 37.6 29.2 28.5
The majority of Muslims find terrorism justifiable 17.1 26.3 23.3 19.9 21.5

* In France the statements were formulated positively and subsequently reverse coded. In these cases the value for France is the percentage of respondents who “somewhat” or “strongly” disagreed with the statement

Britain, Italy and the Netherlands more than 40 percent of respondents complain that there are too many Muslims in their country

A majority of more than 70 percent of European respondents find that Muslim attitudes towards women are incompatible with their own values.

Overall in the surveyed countries about one third think that Muslims treat Islamist terrorists as heroes, although somewhat fewer believe that terrorism finds moral support in the Muslim community (under 20% in Germany and the Netherlands).

It is conspicuous that Europeans are largely united in their rejection of Muslims and Islam.

Survey details

In each country a sample of 1,000 individuals aged 16 or above was selected for landline telephone interviews. The samples were selected to be representative of the respective national population. Deviations from population demographics were dealt with by weighting.

Data was taken from 8,026 European interviewees representing approx. 270 million Europeans aged 16 or above. The samples include only persons holding the citizenship of the surveyed country.

The mean age was just under 47, with the youngest sample in Poland (44) and the oldest in Germany (48). Taking the sample as a whole, 16 percent of respondents had at least one parent or grandparent who was an immigrant, but the countries differed considerably in this respect.

In France almost one third of interviewees belonged to a migrant community in some sense, in Italy fewer than 3 percent.