CAIRO – Giving a freaking image of anti-Islam sentiments in Germany, a new study has revealed that Islamophobia has become culturally acceptable in the country and that the society is shifting its attention from xenophobia to religious bias against Muslims, The Local newspaper reported.
“It's no longer 'the Turks' but 'the Muslims',” Wilhelm Heitmeyer, head of the institute for research of interdisciplinary conflict and violence at Bielefeld University, told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, The Local reported.A research by the Bielefeld University found that Islamophobia has become culturally acceptable in Germany.
Heitmeyer said that the general hostility against foreigners had given way to a growing rejection of Islam in Germany.
This bigotry, moving from the confines of ethnicity towards religious bias against Muslims, does not exist only in the far-right, he said.
Heitmeyer noted that anti-Muslim sentiments were also present in more left-leaning and centrist circles, appearing throughout the country from the highest echelons of society to the lowest.
The findings of are not new.
An earlier study from Munster University in 2010 found that 66 percent of western Germans and 74 percent of eastern Germans had a negative attitude towards Muslims.
A more recent study from the Allensbach Institute suggested that this had not changed over the past two years.
Asking German people about Islam, only 22 percent said they agreed with Germany's former president Christian Wulff's statement that Islam, like Christianity, was part of Germany.
Germany has between 3.8 and 4.3 million Muslims, making up some 5 percent of the total 82 million population, according to government-commissioned studies.
RacismExperts notice that the rising anti-Muslim bias was generally acceptable in German society as freedom of opinion.
“Criticism of Islam or Muslims appear acceptable, because it is not seen as classically racist,” Alexander Häusler, neo-Nazi expert from Düsseldorf's technical university, said.
German Muslims have also voiced concern about a growing hostility in their country.
Aiman Mazyek, Head of the Central Council for Muslims in Germany, said police and intelligence officials still refuse to rank violent attacks against Muslims independently, grouping them with the broad category of xenophobia.
“By doing this, hostility against Islam is being blurred out,” said Mazyek, calling on the government to publish a yearly report about racism.
Germany has been recently gripped by a fierce debate on immigration and integration.
In 2009, central banker Thilo Sarrazin sparked a debate on integration after accusing Muslim immigrants of undermining the society which is becoming less intelligent because of them.
Chancellor Merkel weighed in, saying that multiculturalism has failed in Germany.
But the remarks have drawn angry reactions, with German president Wulff stressing that Islam is part and parcel of German society.
German politicians have also called for recognizing Islam as an official religion in the Christian-majority country.But Germany’s new President Joachim Gauck sparked a storm of criticism last year by contradicting his predecessor’s view that Islam is part of Germany.
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