On Thursday, the Federal Ministry of the Interior released a new study on integration and Muslims in Germany – in the public media dubbed the “Muslim-study” – which has triggered yet another intense debate about Muslims and the role of Islam in Germany. The study, entitled “The Daily Life of Young Muslims in Germany”, surveyed Muslims between 14 and 32, both German citizens and non-citizens. In addition, several group interviews were conducted with young living in Germany, Internet forums were analyzed, and TV news reports evaluated. The aim to the study was to find out how Muslims living in Germany view German culture as well as their attitudes towards integration.
According to the study, a significant minority is particularly sceptical about integration: Only 52% of non-German Muslims favoured integration, while 48% refuse to integrate, but prefer to live in separation from the German mainstream. These figures change slightly when taking into account German Muslims: While, then, 78% of Muslim favour integration, 22% prefer a more separatist approach. Overall, about 24% of non-German Muslims reject integration, question Western values, and tend to accept violence.
Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich expressed his concern about the study’s findings and emphasised that those who reject democratic values and constitutionally enshrined freedoms do not have a future in Germany. Similarly, Hans-Peter Uhl, domestic affairs spokesman of the government’s CDU faction, said the high number of Muslims who refuse to integrate was alarming. The rejection to integrate may provide a fertile ground for religious fanaticism and terrorism.
While many CDU politicians were concerned about the study’s findings, the Liberal Democrats criticized the study for producing “headlines”, but no actual findings beyond the religious commitment of young Muslims, which cannot automatically be connected with violence. Furthermore, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP) questioned the study’s validity and significance. Green-Party politician Volker Beck went even further and criticized the Interior Ministry for viewing Muslims solely in the light of the potential danger they pose – according to Beck, this alludes to the Interior Minister’s lacking willingness to fully integrate them.
Germany’s Muslim communities have also expressed criticism. Kenan Kolat, for instance, head of the Turkish Community in Germany, accused Friedrich of populist behaviour. Instead of publishing the study’s findings, they should have been discussed during the Islam Conference. The Chair of the Central Council of Muslims, Aiman Mazyek, by comparison, was more concerned about the potential radicalisation of young Muslims. He called on politicians for support preventive work more strongly.