Global survey finds European Muslims "isolated"

Thu May 7, 2009 8:36am EDT
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By Luke Baker

LONDON (Reuters) - Muslims living in European countries feel far more isolated than those living in the United States, according to a survey on coexistence, with a lack of access to education and jobs reinforcing a sense of ostracism.

At the same time, Muslims in France, Britain and Germany feel far more loyalty to their country than they are perceived to feel, and express a strong willingness to integrate.

The findings by pollsters Gallup tend to suggest that a longer period of migration to the United States and economic growth there has helped foster integration. Meanwhile, Muslims in Europe are working hard to fit in and say it is important, but they are not always seen to be succeeding.

"This research shows that many of the assumptions about Muslims and integration are wide of the mark," said Dalia Mogahed, the executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies and co-author of a report based on the findings.

"European Muslims want to be part of the wider community and contribute even more to society."

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.

While 38 percent of Muslims in Germany, 35 percent of those in the United Kingdom and 29 percent of those in France were found to be "isolated" in their countries, that figure stood at just 15 percent in the United States and 20 percent in Canada.

"This can be explained by the historical importance of immigration in the development of Canada and the United States as modern nations," said Mogahed, adding that better access to higher education and work in North America had helped over decades to create more integration and social advancement.   Continued...

<p>A man gestures in front of the newly built Ahmadiya mosque in the Heinersdorf district of Berlin October 15, 2008. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski</p>