So much for that highly touted ‘moderate Islam’.
H/T: Marc Louis
Fundamentalism II: A survey of Muslims in Europe
The site WZB, which stands for “Wissenschaftzentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung” (my translation: “Berlin Center for Social Science Research”), has conducted a survey whose results were just published in a paper by Ruud Koopmans, “Fundamentalism and out-group hostility Muslim immigrants and Christian natives in Western Europe” (free download at the link; WZB’s summary is here). The motivation for this work was the controversy about whether Muslim immigrants and their descendants living in Western countries had fundamentalist religious beliefs, or were more moderate—perhaps because moderates tended to migrate or, after migration, became tempered by living in Western society. While we know quite a bit about Christian fundamentalists, there has been little attempt to compare Islamic with Christian fundamentalism in the West.
Koopmans’ paper is based on a WBZ-funded survey of 9000 respondents “with a Turkish or Moroccan immigration background” living in six Western countries; Germany, France, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Austria. Note that Turkey and Morocco are not known as hotbeds of Muslim extremism. There was also a Christian control group described in the survey paper. Although I’m not a sociologist, the study seems to me to have been well designed and controlled, with possible contaminating factors considered and statistically investigated. Two sets of questions were asked (indented matter from the paper):
1. Questions about the degree of fundamentalism
Following the widely accepted definition of fundamentalism of Bob Altermeyer and Bruce Hunsberger, the fundamentalism belief system is defined by three key elements:
– that believers should return to the eternal and unchangeable rules laid down in the
– that these rules allow only one interpretation and are binding for all believers;
– that religious rules have priority over secular laws.
These aspects of fundamentalism were measured by the following survey items that were asked to those native respondents who indicated that they were Christians (70%), and to those respondents of Turkish and Moroccan origin who indicated they were Muslims (96%):
“Christians [Muslims] should return to the roots of Christianity [Islam].”
“There is only one interpretation of the Bible [the Koran] and every Christian [Muslim] must
stick to that.”
“The rules of the Bible [the Koran] are more important to me than the laws of [survey country].”
Here are the disquieting results:
60% of Turkish and Moroccan Muslim immigrants want a return to the faith’s religious roots (as opposed to 20% of Christians); 75% think only one interpretation of the Qur’an is possible (as opposed to about 17% of Christians surveyed vis-a-vis the Bible); and 65% of the Muslims say that scriptural rules are more important than the laws of the country where they live (only about 12% of Christian countrymen agreed). Overall, 44% of Muslims agreed with all three statements, as opposed to fewer than 4% of Christians. In other words, there’s an alarmingly high level of fundamentalism among Islamic residents of these countries—a level far exceeding that of Christian fundamentalism. And remember, migrants from more “extreme” Islamic countries weren’t surveyed.
These results were not due mainly to economic or class differences, for regression analysis controlling “for education, labour market status, age, gender and marital status revealed that while some of these variables explain variation in fundamentalism within both religious groups, they do not at all explain or even diminish the differences between Muslims and Christians.” And younger Muslims were no less fundamentalist than older ones. In contrast, Christian fundamentalism was stronger in older than in younger Christians.