Muslims living in Europe feel far more loyalty to their country than they are often perceived to feel but have differing views on what is considered morally acceptable than their non-Muslim counterparts, a survey on coexistence said on Thursday.
The Gallup Coexist Index survey said there are several misconceptions and generalizations about Europe's Muslims because researchers often fail to consider cultural and socioeconomic differences in Europe that affect life as an immigrant.
"European Muslims want to be part of the wider community and contribute even more to society," said Dalia Mogahed, executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, but many found that they were not always successful.
The authors, Mogahed and Mohamed Younis, suggested that a combination of more strict views and religious practices by Muslims in certain countries had contributed to the misconception about their degree of integration, even while those Muslims were keen to integrate.
"This research shows that many of the assumptions about Muslims and integration are wide off the mark," Mogahed, the executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, said.
Out of the three European countries polled, only 10 percent of British Muslims felt integrated, while 46 percent of French Muslims and 36 percent of German Muslims felt integrated into the wider society.
Morals and democracy
A seemingly counterintuitive finding was that European Muslims not only accepted but also welcomed the freedoms, democratic institutions, justice and human rights that characterize their societies.
Some researchers pointed out in the report that "the greatest differences between Muslims and westerners lie more in eros than demos. In other words, the Muslim-west gap rests on differences in attitudes toward sexual liberalization and gender issues rather than democracy and governance."
Muslims in Germany and Britain were more likely than the general public to say they had confidence in the judicial system, financial institutions and the honesty of elections.
Sixty-one percent of German Muslims expressed confidence in their national government compared to only 36 percent of the non-Muslim German public.
Homosexuality and honor killings
Most Muslims had little tolerance for the moral acceptability of homosexuality, abortion, pornography, sex outside of marriage and suicide.
Britain's Muslims showed zero tolerance for homosexual acts, while even in France, with the highest percentage of tolerance, only 35 percent said such acts were "morally acceptable."
On the issue of sexual relations between unmarried men and women, non-Muslim populations believed it was acceptable whereas Muslim populations generally characterized it as immoral, with a mere three percent in Britain believing it was moral.
Although stereotypes of Muslims suggest support for honor killings, poll findings showed that French, German and British Muslims actually held similar opinions to that of the general public.
Only three percent of French and German Muslims and two percent of British Muslims said honor killings were morally acceptable compared to one percent of the German and British non-Muslim publics.
For the past two decades the headscarf, or hijab, has been at the center of public debate with some branding it a symbol of oppression or a rejection of modern values.
The poll found that the majority of European populations believed that Muslim women should remove the headscarf in order to integrate adequately.
When asked what types of associations the European public, including Muslims, made with the headscarf equal percentages in France, about (30), and Germany, (40), said they associate the headscarf with courage.
But others associated the hijab with women’s oppression, religiosity and fanaticism.
The survey, described as the first of its kind, polled at least 500 Muslims in June and July of last year to generate its findings on European Muslim integration. At least 1,000 members of the general public in each country were also randomly surveyed to create comparisons on specific issues.