1 October 2010
If discussions on the cultural pages of German newspapers in spring 2010 were representative of German opinion, then we must assume that around half the German population comprehend Islam as a threat. Does the negative attitude towards Islam testify to vigilance or to prejudice?
No matter how coarse and emotional these debates may have been, a glance across Germany’s frontiers shows that things could have been much worse. In Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Switzerland the anti-Islamic mood is not only to be felt in newspaper feature supplements, blogs and talk shows; it also influences party politics, election results, and special legislation on Islam. In Germany the political fallout of this debate is astonishingly limited. Udo Ulfkotte’s attempt to establish an anti-Islam Party failed.
Within political elites there exists a consensus that less emphasis should be put on Islam, which should rather be left to conferences and committees of specialists and representatives of particular interests. They realise that there is nothing to be gained by taking action over Islam. One of the reasons is that the conflict over Islam permeates all the political parties. At public discussions in Munich, Cologne, Berlin, and Brussels in recent weeks, opponents of Islam among the audience frequently mentioned their adherence to the established parties so as to not to be seen to be on the wrong side, i.e. the extreme rightist camp.