by Jerome a Paris
Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 12:02:15 PM EST
More stunning graphs on French Muslims, courtesy of the Pew Research Center
when asked whether they consider themselves as a national citizen first or as a Muslim first, French Muslims split relatively evenly (42% vs. 46%) on the issue. Not only is this remarkably different from Muslims elsewhere in Europe (fully 81% of British Muslims self-identify with their religion rather than their nationality, for example) but it is remarkably close to the responses given by Americans when asked whether they identify first as national citizens or as Christians (48% vs. 42%). Perhaps in this, as in other things, Muslims living in France are indeed absorbing the secular ways of their countrymen, among whom fully 83% self-identify with their nationality, rather than their religion.
That's the one thing that grates me most when French people of Arab origin are described as Muslim. It's like describing me as Catholic. It's just as true technically (my family certainly has Christian roots), and just as false in reality (in what it says about me and my opinion of religion in general or of the Catholic faith). They are mostly secular, and mostly French. Anybody that says otherwise is either ignorant, or has an agenda, usually of the scaremongering kind.
Nearly eight-in-ten French Muslims (78%) say they want to adopt French customs. Those under age 35 are equally as likely to say this as are their elders. This high preference for assimilation compares with that expressed by 53% of Muslims in Spain, 41% in Britain and 30% in Germany.
This confirms the above - and the difference with other countries is pretty striking, which reflects first of all the very unique nature of the French secular, integrationist (by ironing out / ignoring differences) model and its fundamental difference with the model of other countries. But it does mean that French "Muslims" accept this model and make it their own; just like all previous groups of immigrants to France. Note also how they are seen to be integrating by a much larger chunk of the general population (46%) - in stark difference with general perceptions in other countries.
Most striking, however, is the difference between the views that French Muslims hold about people of other faiths and the views held by Muslims elsewhere in Europe and in predominantly Muslim countries. French Muslims even top the general publics in the United States and France in favorable ratings of Christians (91% of French Muslims vs. 88% of Americans and 87% of the French take that view).
But what most distinguishes French Muslims from their co-religionists not only in the Muslim world but in Europe, is their attitude toward Jews. Fully 71% of French Muslims express a positive view of people of the Jewish faith, compared with only 38% of German Muslims, 32% of British Muslims, 28% of Spanish Muslims and still lower numbers in the predominantly Muslim countries surveyed. In this, Muslims reflect the view of the larger French public among whom fully 86% express a favorable opinion of Jews, a higher proportion than even than among the American public.
I hope this can kill both the anti-semitic stories, as well as the supposed need for French authorities to pander to their virulent Muslim communities in their Middle Eastern policies. They are not virulent, and do not need to be pandered to any more than other groups in the population. With the largest Muslim community and the largest Jewish community in Europe, France knows both groups as real people, "normal" French people for the most part, and maybe fears them less?