By Peter Allen
Islam is considered a ‘threat’ by millions of French and Germans to their national identity.
A poll by France’s Le Monde newspaper also found a majority in both countries believe Muslims have ‘not integrated properly’.
Le Monde ran the results under a headline which brands efforts to get different religious communities to live side by side as a ‘failure’.
German Chancellor Merkel said her country's cultural integration had failed, while in France Sarkozy's government has displayed an increasing hard line towards religious extremism, recently banning Islamic veils
France, with seven million, and Germany, 4.3 million, have the largest Muslim communities in Europe. There are 2.4million in Britain.
Last year German Chancellor Angela Merkel conceded that her country’s multicultural society had ‘failed’, while French president Nicolas Sarkozy has also complained about the growing influence of radical Islam.
According to the Le Monde poll, carried out with marketing firm IFOP, 68 per cent of French and 75 per cent of Germans believe Muslims are ‘not well integrated into society’.
42 per cent of French and 40 per cent of Germans consider the presence of Islamic communities 'a threat' to their national identities. Here a student in a headscarf studies in a university library in Germany
Others – 55 per cent in France and 49 per cent in Germany – believe the ‘influence and visibility of Islam’ is ‘too large’, while 60 per cent in both countries say the reason for the problem is Muslims’ own ‘refusal’ to integrate.
Just as crucially, 42 per cent of French and 40 per cent of Germans consider the presence of Islamic communities ‘a threat’ to their national identities.
An editorial in Le Monde adds: ‘As Islam becomes a permanent and increasingly conspicuous fixture of European societies, public opinion is clearly tensing up, though disparities do appear between young and old and between Left and Right wing.’
Jerome Fourquet, of IFOP, said the results ‘go beyond linking immigration with security or immigration with unemployment, to linking Islam with a threat to identity’.
Two Muslim women wearing niqab in northern France. Sarkozy's government recently banned Islamic veils and Sarkozy has courted the voters of hard-right parties as he tries to reassert traditional values
Mr Fourquet said he would like to extend the research to countries like the UK, where he believed the results would be much the same.
The threat of terrorism has increasingly been linked with Muslim communities in all European countries since the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and the 7/7 atrocities in London in 2005.
In France, Mr Sarkozy’s government has displayed an increasing hard line towards religious extremism, recently banning Islamic veils.
French foreign minister Michele Alliot-Marie said it was important not to confuse moderate Muslims with radical or fundamentalist parties.
She said: ‘The trap set by Al Qaeda was to push us towards a general confrontation, towards a war between the Muslim and Western worlds. We must watch out for anything that goes in that direction. We must not confuse Islam and terrorism.’
The poll questioned 1,600 people in France and Germany last month.
Source: Mail Online