EU: Majority believe Muslims want to be distinct

EU: Majority believe Muslims want to be distinct

Pew published a new study on Muslim-Western tensions. There's a lot of interesting information in there, but I focus below on two issues: How Westerners view Muslim assimilation in their countries, and how they view Muslims in general. I think it's noteworthy that while in Western Europe there seems to be a correspondence between the two (Germany and Spain lead in thinking Muslims don't want to assimilate and in unfavorable views of Muslims), in Russia it's the other way around: they have a very favorable view of Muslims, though only a tiny minority think they want to assimilate.

Muslim Assimilation

On balance, respondents in the non-Muslim nations surveyed believe Muslims in their countries want to be distinct from the larger society. Majorities or pluralities hold this view in Western Europe, the U.S., Israel and Russia. This opinion is particularly widespread in Germany (72%), Spain (69%), and Russia (66%).

France is the country in which the largest percentage believes Muslims want to adopt national customs: 45% think French Muslims want to embrace the French way of life.

Across the U.S. and Western Europe there is a notable education gap on this question. Consistently, the opinion that Muslims do not want to assimilate is less widespread among those with a college degree. The largest gap is in France where 42% of those with a college degree say Muslims wish to be distinct from the rest of society, compared with 62% among those who do not have a college degree. Double digit differences also exist in Germany, Britain and the U.S.

Mixed Views of Muslims in the West

Majorities in Britain (64%), France (64%), Russia (62%) and the U.S. (57%) express positive views of Muslims. Opinions are nearly divided in Germany, where 45% have a favorable view of Muslims and 47% offer negative ratings; in 2006, a majority (54%) of Germans had unfavorable views of Muslims, while 36% had positive opinions.

In Spain, however, attitudes toward Muslims remain negative, although more now express positive views than did so five years ago. Somewhat fewer than four-in-ten (37%) Spanish respondents have a favorable opinion, while a 55%-majority expresses unfavorable views of Muslims; in 2006, about three-in-ten (29%) had positive views and 61% had negative opinions.