An Ifop poll for Le Figaro measuring perceptions of Islam has found that people have a growing sense of unease about its role in France.
What’s notable about the results is that where once such sentiments were perceived as the preserve of the “extreme right”, they are now felt across the political spectrum. Back in 2010, 39 per cent of Socialist Party voters felt Islam was too prominent within French society — a majority of 52 per cent feel this to be the case six years on.
Le Figaro says the poll confirms a “total rejection” of the religion in France, after its capital in 2015 saw two deadly Islamist terror attacks.
Seventeen people were murdered over three days in January, including most of the writers of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Then, on November 13th a series of coordinated attacks claimed 130 innocent lives, including 89 people shot dead at the Bataclan theatre.
The poll also found that 47 per cent of people consider the presence of Muslim communities a threat to France’s identity, up five points from 2010. However, 19 per cent believe Muslims culturally enrich the country.
Surveys by Ifop going back to 1989 have consistently measured attitudes toward aspects of Islam in French society, and the change over the years paints a picture of a nation whose tolerance has worn thin.
In 1989 33 per cent of French people responded that they were “in favour” of building mosques, while the figure today is just 13 per cent . That year, 31 per cent were opposed to wearing the veil in general, a number that in 2016 has risen to 63 per cent.
French people’s growing distrust of Islam’s role in the country comes as data from across Western Europe shows that rather than becoming more assimilated over time, the views of second and third generation Muslims have become increasingly hardline.
Anouar Kbibech, Chairman of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, responded to the survey’s results saying that negative perceptions of Islam cause distress to Muslims living in France.
The French, he comments, must look upon Muslims as full citizens. He noting that in the past Muslims demanded a right to “difference”, Le Figaro quips that now the Muslims in France will demand a right to “indifference”.
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