How did the Tiny Minority of Extremists get their opinions accepted by so many among the Vast Majority of Peaceful Muslims? “How widespread is Islamic fundamentalism in Western Europe?,” by Erik Voeten in the Washington Post, December 13 (thanks to all who sent this in):
One narrative about Muslim immigrants in Europe is that only a relatively small proportion holds views that are sometimes labeled as “fundamentalist.”Â Ruud Koopmans from the Wissenschaftszentrum in Berlin arguesÂ that this perspective is incorrect. He conducted a telephone survey of 9,000 respondents in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Austria, and Sweden and interviewed both Turkish and Moroccan immigrants as well as a comparison group of Christians.
His first finding is that majorities of Muslim immigrants believe that there is only one interpretation of the Koran possible toÂ which every Muslim should stick (75 percent), and thatÂ religious rules are more important than the laws of the country in which they live (65 percent). Moreover, these views are as widespread among younger Muslims as among older generations.
He then looks at hostility toward out-groups. Fifty-eight percent do not want homosexual friends, 45 percent think that Jews cannot be trusted, and 54 percent believe that the West is out to destroy Muslim culture. Among Christians, 23 percent believe that Muslims are out to destroy Western culture. Koopmans says these results hold when you control for the varying socio-economic characteristics of these groups (although the analyses are not presented)….
This study is bound to attract ample media attention (it already has) and will be seen as a verification for political parties with extreme views, such as Geert Wilders”s PVV in the Netherlands. This is not an issue per se, facts are facts, however uncomfortable they may be, and from what I can tell, this is a professional surveyÂ (technical report here) done by a reputable academic scholar. Indeed, the survey was conducted in 2008, and the researchers appear to have waited until now to publicize these findings. Nevertheless, I wished that the publication of a sensitive survey like this would be partnered with a bit more information. For example, I could not even track down country-specific marginals for the main survey questions and key analyses in the article come without tables or graphs.
Still, the finding that 54 percent of Muslims in these six Western European countries believe that the West is out to destroy Muslim culture can hardly be ignored. A Dutch newspaper, Trouw, cites Arabist Jan Jaap de Ruiter who argues that Muslims have a tendency to give “socially desirable” answers to survey questions. Even if this is true, I’d still be very concerned that the apparent socially desirable answer is that Jews should not be trusted and that the West is out to get Muslims. An added concern is the absence of generational differences in the survey responses; suggesting that this is not an issue that is likely to go away any time soon.
Indeed not. But be careful, Voeten. Talking about this too much will get you branded “racist” and “Islamophobic,” even as you try to hedge around that possibility by tarring as “extremist” those who, like Geert Wilders, are trying to address this problem realistically.