Nearly half of the three million ethnic Turks living in Germany believe it is more important to follow Islamic Sharia law than German law if the two are in conflict, according to a new study.
One-third of those surveyed also yearn for German society to "return" to the way it was during the time of Mohammed, the founder of Islam, in the Arabia of the early seventh century.
The survey — which involves Turks who have been living in Germany for many years, often decades — refutes claims by German authorities that Muslims are well integrated into German society.
The 22-page study, "Integration and Religion from the Viewpoint of Ethnic Turks in Germany" (Integration und Religion aus der Sicht von Türkeistämmigen in Deutschland), was produced by the Religion and Politics department of the University of Münster. Key findings include:
- 47% of respondents agreed with the statement that "following the tenets of my religion is more important to me than the laws of the land in which I live." This view is held by 57% of first generation Turkish immigrants and 36% of second and third generation Turks. (The study defines first generation Turks as those who arrived in Germany as adults; second and third generation Turks are those who were born in Germany or who arrived in the country as children.)
- 32% of respondents agreed that "Muslims should strive to return to a societal order like that in the time of Mohammed." This view is held by 36% of the first generation and 27% of the second and third generation.
- 50% of respondents agreed that "there is only one true religion." This view is held by 54% of the first generation and 46% of the second and third generation.
- 36% of respondents agreed that "only Islam is able to solve the problems of our times." This view is held by 40% of the first generation and 33% of the second and third generation.
- 20% of respondents agreed that "the threat which the West poses to Islam justifies violence." This view is held by 25% of the first generation and 15% of the second and third generation.
- 7% of respondents agreed that "violence is justified to spread Islam." This view is held by 7% of the first generation and 6% of the second and third generation. Although these numbers may seem innocuous, 7% of the three million Turks living in Germany amounts to 210,000 people who believe that jihad is an acceptable method to propagate Islam.
- 23% of respondents agreed that "Muslims should not shake the hand of a member of the opposite sex." This view is held by 27% of the first generation and 18% of the second and third generation.
- 33% of respondents agreed that "Muslim women should wear a veil." This view is held by 39% of the first generation and 27% of the second and third generation.
- 31% of female respondents said that they wear a veil in public. This includes 41% of the first generation and 21% of the second and third generation.
- 73% of respondents agreed that "books and movies that attack religion and offend the feelings of deeply religious people should be banned by law."
- 83% of respondents agreed that "I get angry when Muslims are the first to be blamed whenever there is a terrorist attack."
- 61% of respondents agreed that "Islam fits perfectly in the Western world."
- 51% of respondents agreed that "as an ethnic Turk, I feel like a second class citizen."
- 54% of respondents agreed that "regardless of how hard I try, I am not accepted as a member of German society."
The study also found that Turks and native Germans hold radically different perceptions about Islam:
- While 57% of Turkish Germans associate Islam with human rights, only 6% of Germans do.
- While 56% of Turkish Germans associate Islam with tolerance, only 5% of Germans do.
- While 65% of Turkish Germans associate Islam with peace, only 7% of Germans do.
Based on the answers provided, the authors of the survey concluded that 13% of respondents are "religious fundamentalists" (18% of the first generation and 9% of the second and third generation). Although these numbers may appear insignificant, 13% of the three million Turks in Germany amounts to nearly 400,000 Islamic fundamentalists, many of whom believe that violence is an acceptable means to spread Islam.
The survey's findings mirror those of other studies, which show that Turkish migrants are poorly integrated into German society.
In 2012, the 103-page study, "German-Turkish Life and Values" (Deutsch-Türkische Lebens- und Wertewelten), found that only 15% of ethnic Turks living in Germany consider the country to be their home. Other key findings include:
- Nearly half (46%) of Turks agreed with the statement, "I hope that in the future there will be more Muslims than Christians living in Germany"; more than half (55%) said that Germany should build more mosques.
- 72% of respondents said that Islam is the only true religion; 18% said that Jews are inferior to Muslims and 10% said that Christians are inferior.
- 63% of Turks between the ages of 15 and 29 said they approve of a Salafist campaign to distribute a Koran to every household in Germany; 36% said they would be willing to support the campaign financially.
- 95% of respondents said it is absolutely necessary for them to preserve their Turkish identity; 87% said they believe that Germans should make a greater effort to be considerate of Turkish customs and traditions.
- 62% of respondents said they would rather be around Turks than Germans; only 39% of Turks said that Germans were trustworthy.
The survey also found that labor migration is no longer the main reason why Turks immigrate to Germany: the most important reason is to marry a partner who lives there.
Meanwhile, a new statistical survey of Germany — Datenreport 2016: Social Report for the Federal Republic of Germany (Datenreport 2016: Sozial-bericht für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland) — shows that ethnic Turks are economically and educationally less successful than other immigrant groups.
The report, produced by Germany's official statistics agency, Destatis, in cooperation with several German think tanks, shows that more than one-third (36%) of ethnic Turks are living below the poverty line, compared to 25% of migrants from the Balkans and southwestern Europe (Spain and Portugal). The average income of ethnic Turkish households is €1,242 ($1,400) per month, compared to €1,486 ($1,700) for non-Turkish migrants and €1,730 ($1,950) for German households.
Only 5% of ethnic Turks earn more than 150% of the average German income, compared to 21% of migrants from Eastern Europe, 18% of those from southwestern Europe and 11% of those from the Balkans.
An open-air market in the heavily-Turkish Kreuzberg district of Berlin. (Image source: The Berlin Project video screenshot)
The report also shows that Turks have a lower educational attainment than other migrant groups in Germany. Only 60% of ethnic Turks complete secondary school (Hauptschulabschluss), compared to 85% of migrants from Eastern Europe. Moreover, only 8% of ethnic Turks between the ages of 17 and 45 earn a Bachelor's degree, compared to 30% of migrants in the same demographic from Eastern Europe. Education is a determinative factor for successful integration, according to the report.
German multiculturalists often blame the lack of Turkish integration on the Germans themselves. Writing for Die Welt, economist Thomas Straubhaar argues that most Germans view Turks as guests, not as fellow citizens, an attitude which discourages Turks from integrating:
"Ethnic Turks are essentially treated as guests — hence the controversy over whether their faith belongs to Germany or not. Their immigration is seen as temporary. Their contribution to German culture is seen in a negative light.
"Those who treat migrants as guests should not be surprised when they behave as such. Guests are not expected to have any emotional devotion to the host, nor does the host feel any obligation to show irrevocable loyalty to the guest.
"Guests will not be willing to put all their cards on the table of the host country and take full responsibility for successful integration. Guests assume that sooner or later they must return home again. In everything they do, they will always consider their guest status and be only halfheartedly engaged. This applies to investments in language, culture, friendships, social contacts and professional career."
Others counter that those who act like strangers should not be surprised if they are treated as strangers. Sociologist Ruud Koopmans argues that one of the most determinative factors in successful integration involves the cultural gap between host and guest. The greater the distance, the greater the integration challenge.
In a recent interview with WirtschaftsWoche, Koopmans criticized multiculturalists who for normative reasons insist that culture and religion should not be factored into the debate on integration:
"In all European countries, Muslim immigrants lag behind all other immigrant groups in almost every aspect of integration. This applies to the labor market, but also to educational achievement, inter-ethnic contacts, i.e., contacts with the local population, and identification with the country of residence.
"Three decisive factors determine cultural distance: language skills, inter-ethnic contacts — especially those involving marriage — and values about the role of women. They all have something to do with religion. This of course applies especially for ideas about the role of women, which are derived directly from the Islamic religion. The greater the cultural distance between groups — especially when there are cultural taboos — the more complicated inter-ethnic marriages become. Such taboos make it virtually impossible for a Muslim, and especially Muslim women, to marry a non-Muslim. Statistics from various European countries show that less than ten percent of Muslim marriages are inter-ethnic."
Detlef Pollack, the author of the University of Münster study cited above, blames the lack of Turkish integration on discrimination: "The message to the majority German population is that we should be more sensitive to the problems encountered by those of Turkish origin," he told Deutsche Welle. "It is our view that the feeling of not being accepted is expressed in the vehement defense of Islam."
Koopmans rejects the link between discrimination and radicalization:
"This is a common assertion. But it is wrong. In our large study we asked Muslims how strongly they feel discriminated against, and we searched for correlations to the development of a fundamentalist worldview. But there are none. Muslim hatred of non-Muslims is not a special phenomenon of Muslim immigration, but is actually worse in the countries of origin. Radicalization is not first produced here in Europe, rather it comes from the Muslim world."
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter. His first book, Global Fire, will be out in 2016.