Germany: Turkish Muslims Hope for More Muslims Than Christians
by Soeren Kern
August 27, 2012
Integration may even be unattainable if the younger generation of Turkish-Germans increasingly continues to embrace Islam.
Nearly half of all Turks living in Germany say they hope there will be more Muslims than Christians in Germany in the future, according to a new survey of Turkish-German mores and attitudes.
The study also shows that Islam is becoming an increasingly important component of the value structure of Turks in Germany, especially among the younger generation of Turkish-Germans, who hold religious views more radical than their elders' views are.
The findings have filled many Germans with a sense of foreboding and are certain to contribute to the ongoing debate (here, here and here) about Muslim integration (or, rather, lack of it) in Germany.
The 103-page study, "German-Turkish Life and Values" (abridged version in German here), was jointly produced by the Berlin-based INFO polling institute and the Antalya, Turkey-based Liljeberg research firm, and was released to the public on August 17, as a follow-up to similar studies conducted in 2009 and 2010. It aims to determine just how satisfied the estimated 2.7 million Turks living in Germany are with their life there.
Of those Turks surveyed, 27% were born in Germany (77% of 15- to 29-year-olds were born in Germany) and 39% have lived in Germany for at least 30 years. Only 15% of Turks, however, consider Germany to be their home -- compared to 21% in 2009, and 18% in 2010.
The survey also shows that labor migration is no longer the main reason why Turks immigrate to Germany; only one in five respondents said they had gone to Germany to look for work. Rather, the most important reason Turks gave for immigrating to Germany was to marry a partner who lived there. More than half of the Turkish women interviewed said they moved to Germany for that reason.
In the area of language, the survey shows a major generational gap. Overall, only 37% of Turkish-origin men and 27% of Turkish-origin women speak better German than Turkish. Nevertheless, in the 15 to 29 age category, 75% of those surveyed speak better German than Turkish. Meanwhile, those in the 30 to 49 age category, 71% of those surveyed speak better Turkish than German.
While 91% of Turks surveyed believe that Turkish-origin children need to learn German from an early age, 90% also say that children absolutely must learn Turkish. A growing number of Turks (53%) believe that German teachers of Turkish-origin children need to understand the Turkish language to be able to help children having difficulty with the German language.
In the area of hypothetical voting patterns, the vast majority (80%) of Turks surveyed say they would vote for leftwing or far-leftwing parties if they were able to vote in Germany. 50% said they would vote for the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), 26% would vote for the leftwing Green party and 5% would vote for the far-left Die Linke. Only 13% would vote for the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU).
Almost all Turks surveyed (95%) said it is absolutely necessary for them to preserve their Turkish identity; in a sign indicating that efforts at integration have a long way to go, 62% said they would rather be around Turks than around Germans (in the 2010 survey, it was 40%). Only 39% of Turks said that Germans were trustworthy.
At the same time, 87% of those surveyed said they believe that German society should make a great effort to be considerate of the customs and traditions of Turkish immigrants.
Of those Turks surveyed, 72% believe that Islam is the only true religion (in the 2010 survey, it was 69%); 18% say Jews are inferior people and 10% say Christians are inferior.
Arguably the most sobering finding of the study is that 46% of Turks say they hope that Germany will one day have more Muslims than Christians (in the 2010 survey, it was 33%). More than half of Turks (55%) believe that Germany should build more mosques.
More than 90% of Turks surveyed consider themselves to be religious; only 9% label themselves as "not religious" (37% say they are highly religious). The survey shows high levels of religiosity (91%) among the younger generation of Turks (ages 15 to 29) living in Germany.
The study also finds that 63% of Turks aged 15 to 29 year-olds approve of the radical Islamist campaign to distribute a Koran to every household in Germany, and 36% of the young people said they would be willing to support the Salafist campaign financially with donations.
By contrast, 69% of those over the age of 50 (the older generation was heavily influenced by Kemalism) are opposed to the campaign called Project "READ!"
The authors of the study say this data reflects the increasing role of Islam among the younger generation, who consider the religion to be a "gateway to a politicization which could lead to group building"-- that is, the growing attraction to political Islam.
Overall, the new survey largely corroborates a 764-page study released by the German Interior Ministry in March 2012, which found that 48% of Muslims living in Germany "strongly leaned toward separation" and clearly rejected the culture of the German majority. .
That study, "The Daily Life of Young Muslims in Germany," also showed that among Muslims between the ages of 14 and 32 there is a "subgroup" of religious extremists who hold anti-Western views and are reportedly prepared to use violence.
Taken together, the combined research reaffirms that Germany faces significant difficulties ahead in integrating immigrant Muslim population, and that over the long-run integration may even be unattainable if the younger generation of Turkish-Germans increasingly continues to embrace Islam.