Over the past several years polemical and controversial issues related to Islam have emerged in European societies. Amidst a number of highly mediatized fundamentalist attacks, tensions have focused in recent years on debates about the wearing of headscarves, mosques being vandalized, and the integration and naturalization of immigrant populations, all of which are also mobilized by extreme right political parties.
Approximately 12-13 million of Europe’s 377 million inhabitants are Muslim (4% of the population), and most live in large cities. France has the largest population, followed by Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. These four countries have very different models with which to frame the aforementioned debates. This study examining the perceptions of Europeans in these countries on Islam had five principal findings:
That concern with Islam is present but secondary
That Muslim populations are perceived to have largely failed to integrate
That the visibility of Islam is a principal issue
That there is a general rejection of political Islam but an acceptance of private beliefs
That there are important generational differences in how Muslims integrate