61% Germans Think Islam has No Place in West, Finds Opinion Poll

61% Germans Think Islam has No Place in West, Finds Opinion Poll

"I am Charlie. All is allowed for satire, except dying," says this message placed outside the French Embassy in Berlin. (Associate Press photo)

Berlin:  A large and growing majority of Germans believe Islam does not belong in the Western world and more than half see it as a threat, a poll published on Thursday showed.

In a survey conducted in November, before Wednesday's massacre by Islamist gunmen at a French satirical paper, 61% of non-Muslim Germans said Islam had no place in the West.

The figure was up from 52% in 2012, according to the study released by the Bertelsmann Foundation think tank.

More than half, 57%, said they felt threatened by Islam, four percentage points higher than in 2012; 40% said they felt like "foreigners in their own country" because of the presence of Muslims.And one in four said Muslims should be barred from migrating to Germany.

About four million Muslims live in Germany, around three-quarters of them of Turkish origin, among a population of 80 million people.

"For Muslims, Germany has become home. But they are confronted with a negative image apparently shaped by a minority of radical Islamists," Bertelsmann Foundation Islam expert Yasemin El-Menouar wrote in the study's findings, which also looked at Muslim immigrants' views of Germany.

The authors said anti-Islam stances could be found regardless of class or education level, but younger people and those with personal contacts with Muslims showed less prejudice.

The poll was by the TNS Emnid independent opinion research institute among 937 non-Muslim Germans.

Germany has been rocked by anti-migrant marches in the eastern city of Dresden, which began small in October but have grown in support over the last month, now attracting around 18,000 people each week.

They are organised by a right-wing populist group calling itself PEGIDA or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident.

It issued a statement on its Facebook page saying that the killing of 12 people by Islamist gunmen at the satirical paper Charlie Hebdo in Paris Wednesday confirmed their views.

"The Islamists, which PEGIDA has been warning about for 12 weeks, showed France that they are not capable of democracy but rather look to violence and death as an answer," it said. "Our politicians want us to believe the opposite. Must such a tragedy happen here in Germany first???"

Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Germans not to attend the marches, accusing them of stoking "hatred", and encouraged counterdemonstrators, who have managed to outnumber PEGIDA protesters in recent weeks at gatherings across the country.

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