Denmark: Different attitudes of Turks, Pakistanis to religious involvement in politics

Denmark: Different attitudes of Turks, Pakistanis to religious involvement in politics

A new study by Peter Gundelach, sociology professor at Copenhagen University, was recently published in Dansk Sociologi. The study was conducted among close to 2,500 ethnic Canes, and 1st and 2nd generation immigrants from Turkey and Pakistan.

The study shows that while half of 1st and 2nd generation Pakistanis think that religious leaders should affect politics - influence how people vote and have influence on government decisions - Turks are much more sceptical about religious involvement in politics.

17% of 1st generation Turkish immigrants and 30% of second generation immigrants saw it as a positive thing that priests or religious leaders should affect politics. Turks are more secularized then the Pakistanis, though the 2nd generation less so then their parents.

Peter Gundelach says that in Denmark people are inclined to generalize about Muslims or immigrants, but the study shows that this type of generalization has no meaning, since there's big differences among the various immigrant groups as to how secular they are - and also how much they consider religion and politics as two separate dimensions.

Martin Bak Jørgensen, integration researcher at Aalborg University who researched Turkish immigrant in Denmark, thinks the results of 2nd generation Turks are not surprising. He points out that the Turkish immigrants grew up in Turkey, where there was a lot of focus on the Turkish state being secular.

Martin Bak Jørgensen explains that the 2nd generation supports mixing State and Religion as a generational rebellion. It can be seen positively, as an emancipation process, or more negatively, as an expression that they're not as secularized as their parents.

Immigrants are not the only ones who think mixing politics and religion is a positive thing. Close to a quarter of ethnic Danes in the study - 23% - see such influence as positive. When statistical uncertainly is calculated it, there are no significant differences between Turkish immigrants and Danes, stresses Peter Gundelach.

Henrik Reintoft Christensen, religion-sociologist from Aarhus University, is not surprised by the Danish viewpoint either. It can partially be explained by the attitude towards freedom of speech: religious leaders should be allowed to affect political decisions just like any other person, interest gruop or lobbyist. And partially because the interviewees are Christian and think that Christianity has a positive contribution to make in the public space.

Source: Kristeligt Dagblad (Danish)

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