Religious fundamentalism is not a marginal phenomenon in Western Europe. This conclusion is drawn in a study published by Ruud Koopmans from the WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
The author analyzed data from a representative survey among immigrants and natives in six European countries.
Two thirds of the Muslims interviewed say that religious rules are more important to them than the laws of the country in which they live. Three quarters of the respondents hold the opinion that there is only one legitimate interpretation of the Koran.
These numbers are significantly higher than those from local Christians. Only 13 percent of this group put religious rules above national law; just under 20 percent refuse to accept differing interpretations of the Bible.
For Ruud Koopmans, this powerful tendency toward Muslim religious fundamentalism is alarming: “Fundamentalism is not an innocent form of strict religiosity”, the sociologist says. “We find a strong correlation between religious fundamentalism – actually among both Christians and Muslims – and hostility toward out-groups like homosexuals or Jews.”
Almost 60 percent of the Muslim respondents reject homosexuals as friends; 45 percent think that Jews cannot be trusted; and an equally large group believes that the West is out to destroy Islam.
The Christians’ answers for comparison: As many as 9 percent are openly anti-Semitic; 13 percent do not want to have homosexuals as friends; and 23 percent think that Muslims aim to destroy Western culture.
The Six Country Immigrant Integration Comparative Survey collected data in more than 9,000 telephone interviews in Germany, France, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium and Sweden.
The respondents were Turkish and Moroccan immigrants, as well as control groups of natives. This study is the first that allows analysis on an empirical base of the extent and impact of religious fundamentalism.
[The WZB was founded in 1969 by members of the German parliament from all parties. The WZB is funded by the Federal government and the state of Berlin.] [WZB Berlin Social Science Center]