Fundamentalism and out-group hostility: Muslim immigrants and Christian natives in Western Europe

December 2013


In the heated controversies over immigration and Islam in the early 21st century, Muslims have widely become associated in media debates and the popular imagery with religious fundamentalism. Against this, others have argued that religiously fundamentalist ideas are found among only a small minority of Muslims living in the West, and that religious fundamentalism can equally be found among adherents of other religions, including Christianity. However, claims on both sides of this debate lack a sound empirical base because very little is known about the extent of religious fundamentalism among Muslim immigrants, and virtually no evidence is available that allows a comparison with native Christians.


View full report here: Fundamentalism and out-group hostility – Muslim immigrants and Christian natives in Western Europe

Author: Ruud Koopmans

Published in: WZB Mitteilungen

New Group to support Muslim LBGT people in Italy: a meeting with Moi

August 29, 2013


Muslim and gay? Impossible! Transsexual and Muslim? Inconceivable!
These assertions gave life to Moi (Homosexual Muslims in Italy). We talk to Pier Cesare Notaro, the project coordinator.


Beyond prejudice, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Muslims are a reality and too often reduced to keeping silent. They, like all human beings, have the right to live and to freely express their sexual identity and religion.

From this notion was born, in 2011, Moi -Muslim Homosexuals in Italy – the first Italian project of media- activism, culture, research and information that aims to be an activist group  for LGBTQ people in religion, culture and family issues. The group is open to Muslim immigrants and those born in Italy but the project aims to be for anyone who believes in respect for all religions and sexual orientation. Moi adheres to Calem – Confederation of European and Muslim associations for LGBTI – and collaborates with MPV -Muslims for progressive values ​​- and – INIMuslim International Network for inclusive Muslims. To learn more we asked some questions to Pier Cesare Notaro, the project coordinator.

How and why did Moi develop?
Our project began with a simple observation: in Italy there was no tool to meet and exchange ideas for the LGBTQ people who are Muslim or from Muslim countries. The invisibility of homosexuals, transgender and queer Muslims was so deep that these people, in the common opinion, did not exist. As just one example, one of the leading gay websites wrote that Islam and homosexuality are thought of as “two concepts that are extreme opposites in nature.” Yet in our group of friends from various corners of the world, there were more gay Muslims. And so it felt natural to us that what was missing was a place where we could say, “We exist…”

How was your movement received in the Muslim community?
If we talk about the more or less institutional level, our project was simply ignored. Aside from an imam who wrote us a letter, we never received a response to our attempts to open a dialogue. The situation is different if we are talking about individuals: on the one hand every now and then we get messages of condemnation, on the other; our site is read and followed by some heterosexual Muslims in our country, especially women.

Interview with Prof. Karakaşoglu about teachers with headscarf

July 31


Yasemin Karakaşoglu is a Professor for Educational Sciences at the University of Bremen. In an interview with the the Migration Journal Migazin,  Karakaşoglu speaks about the challenges consequences of the headscarf ban in public schools for students, who wear headscarves and are aiming for teaching degree. According to her personal experiences, some students begin a career in private schools run by migrant associations. Some have given up their dreams of becoming a teacher. Only a rare number of graduates reveal to depose their headscarves. According to Prof. Karakaşoglu some few cases have revealed conflicts between headscarf wearing teachers and their non-Muslim colleagues. Either headscarves have been perceived as symbols of repression against women or symbols of religious fundamentalism. In her opinion, pedagogic training is the reasonable step to reduce the risk of hiring ideologically biased teachers. Nevertheless, the creation of compromise between the State and its citizens is an unavoidable step towards pluralistic nomality.


In 2003, the Constitutional Court ruled against the complaint of Fereshta Ludin, a Muslim teacher, who had been banned to teach with her headscarf in 1998. Eight German States followed the rule of the Constitutional Court and did not allow teachers to wear the headscarf, as the neutrality of the State would be violated. States in the Eastern part of Germany with a low percentage of Muslim immigrants did not consider the need to act legally. States in Western part of Germany reacted differently according to their interpretation of religious symbols in public institutions.

A Mosques in Salerno: “No” from Cirielli, Celano, Peduto

Discussed was the idea of ​​creating a mosque in Salerno, which was started days ago by the mayor Vincenzo De Luca. Not in accordance, to start with, is the deputy of Fratelli d’Italia, Edmund Cirielli: “The idea of ​​building a mosque in Salerno as a center of Islamic culture is not justifiable. I do not see a need to do so.” he said.

“Building a new structure, would mean further contributing to the overbuilding of a city that already suffers from over land use due to decisions made in recent years by De Luca: the creation of a mosque, however, could be a magnet for other Muslim immigrants and I do not think Salerno can afford this luxury with all the problems of daily life,” said Ciriello. To conclude, councilor Roberto Celano said: “At a time of great economic difficulty, such as the one we are experiencing, proposing the idea of ​​building a mosque in Salerno, is entirely misplaced and inappropriate. The mayor seems to want to pursue visibility at all costs with proposals that, in his opinion, are innovative and would focus on his administration, but in reality they are do not support the city.”

“In the absence of a national law that gives clear guidance with respect to the freedom of religion but also guarantees the safety and support of the Italian citizens, the mayor, in his current capacity, will promote a law that regulates the building of places of worship which would actually be in conflict with the Italian state, “said Peduto.

20 years after the assault of Solingen

May 29


Muslims representatives such as the central council of Muslims remembered the deadly assault of May 29th 1993 in the German city of Solingen. Twenty years ago, the German government restricted the asylum law, as a consequence of increasing numbers of asylum seekers. The restriction was part of a preventive policy in the aftermath of the German reunification. Violent protests against foreigners and asylum seekers had occurred in Eastern and Western parts of Germany. In Solingen, a right-wing extremist perpetrator had executed a fire assault, which killed a Turkish family with five members.


With regard to the twentieth annual of the assault in Solingen, Muslim organizations are deeply concerned about the recent wave of assaults against mosques. According the central council of Muslims, Muslim immigrants are increasingly facing daily racism when applying for jobs or searching for accommodation. Racist comments have become socially accepted. The central council of Muslims argues that NSU right-wing terrorism has been advantaged by the hostile atmosphere against Muslim immigrants.


The Religious Affiliation of U.S. Immigrants: Majority Christian, Rising Share of Other Faiths


Over the past 20 years, the United States has granted permanent residency status to an average of about 1 million immigrants each year. These new “green card” recipients qualify for residency in a wide variety of ways – as family members of current U.S. residents, recipients of employment visas, refugees and asylum seekers, or winners of a visa lottery – and they include people from nearly every country in the world. But their geographic origins gradually have been shifting. U.S. government statistics show that a smaller percentage come from Europe and the Americas than did so 20 years ago, and a growing share now come from Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East-North Africa region.

With this geographic shift, it is likely that the religious makeup of legal immigrants also has been changing. The U.S. government, however, does not keep track of the religion of new permanent residents. As a result, the figures on religious affiliation in this report are estimates produced by combining government statistics on the birthplaces of new green card recipients over the period between 1992 and 2012 with the best available U.S. survey data on the religious self-identification of new immigrants from each major country of origin.

While Christians continue to make up a majority of legal immigrants to the U.S., the estimated share of new legal permanent residents who are Christian declined from 68% in 1992 to 61% in 2012. Over the same period, the estimated share of green card recipients who belong to religious minorities rose from approximately one-in-five (19%) to one-in-four (25%). This includes growing shares of Muslims (5% in 1992, 10% in 2012) and Hindus (3% in 1992, 7% in 2012). The share of Buddhists, however, is slightly smaller (7% in 1992, 6% in 2012), while the portion of legal immigrants who are religiously unaffiliated (atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular) has remained relatively stable, at about 14% per year.1

Unauthorized immigrants, by contrast, come primarily from Latin America and the Caribbean, and the overwhelming majority of them – an estimated 83% – are Christian. That share is slightly higher than the percentage of Christians in the U.S. population as a whole (estimated at just under 80% of U.S. residents of all ages, as of 2010).2

These are among the key findings of a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life examining recent trends in the geographic origins and religious affiliation of immigrants to the United States. (For information on religion among migrants not just in the U.S. but globally, see the Pew Research Center’s 2012 report “Faith on the Move: The Religious Affiliation of International Migrants.”)

Muslim Immigrants

The estimated number of new Muslim immigrants varies from year to year but generally has been on the rise, going from roughly 50,000 in 1992 to 100,000 in 2012. Since 2008, the estimated number of Muslims becoming U.S. permanent residents has remained at or above the 100,000 level each year.

Between 1992 and 2012, a total of about 1.7 million Muslims entered the U.S. as legal permanent residents. That constitutes a large portion of the overall U.S. Muslim population (estimated at 2.75 million as of 2011).

In the early 1990s, the great majority of Muslim green card recipients came from Asia and the Pacific or the Middle East-North Africa region. The most common countries of origin among Muslim immigrants in 1992 included Pakistan, Iran and Bangladesh. Those countries, as well as Iraq, also were among the most likely birthplaces of Muslim immigrants to the U.S. in 2012.

In recent years, a higher percentage of Muslim immigrants have been coming from sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated 16% of Muslim immigrants to the U.S. in 2012 were born in countries such as Somalia and Ethiopia. In 1992, only about 5% of new Muslim immigrants came from sub-Saharan Africa.

Immigrants, growing number in Italy are Orthodox

Andrea Tornielli



The Encyclopedia of Religion in Italy (pp. 1240, 125 euro) is a large volume created by the Turin based sociologists Massimo Introvigne and Pierluigi Zoccatelli, director and vice director of CENSUR, respectively. They found and described 836 religions present in Italy. One of the big findings that came out of the research was the significant growth of orthodox Christian immigrants, which are close to the numbers of Muslim immigrants and will likely supersede Muslim immigrants in the next few years. Vatican Insider interviewed Massimo Introvigne.

In the collective imagination, immigrants are Muslim; instead the orthodox Christian immigrant community is on the rise and will likely supersede Muslim immigrant numbers. What explains this phenomenon?

The largest Orthodox Christian community in Italy is Romanian with 163 churches – and the number continues to grow. The allowance of Romania into the European Union in 2007 has resulted in an easier immigration into Italy especially because Romanian is neo-Latin language and the children and adolescence understand Italian much quicker than other immigrants. In spite of the Italian economic crisis, that has slowed sown immigration from other countries, the social and economic situation in Romania, immigration to Italy remains alluring. The same applies, to a lesser extent to Romania, to other Eastern European countries with a majority of Orthodox. The growth of Orthodox immigrants in Italy does not derive from any specific religious reason but rather the motives of migration. At the same time, it is true that the Orthodox church – including the Romanian church – has emerged in Italy to continue relations with its faithful immigrants, such that the secularization of immigrants – that leave their homes, also happens with religion – for orthodox Christians this is relative.

The members of minor religions include 2.5% of Italians, and 7.6% of persons in Italy. Why is there a sensation, in the public opinion, that there is an invasion of other religions and in particular Islam?

With the processes that aren’t new but were increased with September 11, 2001, Europe has begun to display a fear of the “invasion of Islam” and the conquest of Italy by Muslims is no longer military – like the invasion of Vienna in 1683 – but rather through the increase in immigration. Paradoxically, this fear is reinforced by members of Islamic fundamentalism which takes credit for a renewed “conquest of Europe” through immigration and large families. This is what sociology calls “moral panic,” a phenomenon that is based on data but is amplified in the collective imagination becoming difficult to distinguish between real statistics and statistical folklore. However, the moral panic is based on real data.

In Italy, which for many years has been a land of emigration with an increased immigration, the number of immigrants and non-Catholics (in particular Muslims) did not integrate in a phased manner like in France over the course of a century, in Italy the more rapid immigration is during the span of a few decades. In 1970, Muslims in Italy numbered a few thousand, and are now – according to our Encyclopedia, others believe more – 1,475,000, including 115,000 who are Italian citizens. Such rapid growth obviously poses problems. The existence of small minorities who are seduced by the ultra-fundamentalism and terrorism is a real fact, as seen by police reports. The data tells us that Muslims are numerous but that there is no “invasion.” And, also, religious pluralism is a phenomenon which is culturally important and growing, but statistically it is still a relatively small minority, it is true that 97.5% of Italian citizens are not part of religious minorities.”

Report from Switzerland explains Muslims are well-integrated, but more information is needed



According to a report published earlier this week, the vast majority of Muslims living in Switzerland are well integrated into society. The report found that Muslim religious affiliation does not pose a problem to Muslims’ everyday lives and rarely generates conflicts. The report focused on the situation of Muslims in Switzerland, and was developed by several federal agencies. Experts estimate that 350,000 to 400,000 Muslims live in Switzerland, of which about a third have Swiss nationality. Many are descendants of immigrants. The vast majority of Muslim immigrants come from the Western Balkans and Turkey.

No Islamic community is homogeneous: In Switzerland, there is not a homogenous Islamic community, but rather many different communities, which are distinguished mainly by the ethnic, national and linguistic diversity. Typically, these individual communities are not connected to each other.

For many Muslims, religious affiliation is not the main feature of their identity. Only small portion of them (between 12 and 15%) practice their faith, for example by attending a mosque regularly. Muslims from the Western Balkans, in particular, often incorporate Islam into their daily lives. At the same time, the report said the people of Islamic faith feel doubly discriminated against, both as foreign nationals and as Muslims.

Immigration: A Study in Italy shows there are more Christian Immigrants than Muslim.

In Italy there are 836 different religions and more Christian than Muslim immigrants, shows some of the data from a study of Cesnur (Center for Studies on New Religions) which was presented today in Turin. As for information about immigrants, Cesnur reviewed data from annual reports of the Caritas / Migrantes.

”We counted different things” explained Massimo Introvigne and Pier Luigi Zoccatelli, Director and Deputy Director of the Center, respectively, “Caritas counts immigrants on the basis of religion they had in their country of origin, we looked specifically at those practicing in Italy.” So based on information from Caritas, Muslim immigrants in Italy number approximately 1,651,000 however,  Cesnur found that this was actually closer to 1,360,000 and immigrants Orthodox Christians fell from 1,483,000 to 1,295,000.” While in some collective imagination” explain Introvigne and Zoccatelli “an immigrant is most likely non-Catholic  and almost by definition a Muslim is wrong, most immigrants are now non-Muslims, the majority of them are non-Catholic Christians, Orthodox and Pentecostal Protestants adding that these groups now number more than Muslims.” As a whole, immigrants who are other religions (non-Catholic) number 3,218,000. In other words, those belonging to religious minorities are 2.5% of Italian citizens and 7.6% of non-citizens. Among Italian citizens, according to the same data, the largest  minority is Protestant, with 435,000 faithful. The second religious organization among Italian citizens after the Catholic Church is Jehovah’s Witnesses, with a little more than 400,000 faithful, followed by Buddhists (135,000).  The Italian Jewish are “of great historical and cultural importance, but only constitute 36,000 people.”

Plurality and integration

March 9


Federal President Joachim Gauck has met young Muslim immigrants prior to the annual young Islam conference. During the conference, young Muslims are given the opportunity to show their societal engagement and discuss political and social issues with politicians and local experts.


Albeit, most participants expressed their satisfaction about the event, some see the need for action towards more tolerance and acceptance of diversity. Stereotypes in media would increase Islamophobia. Arman Kuru a student candidate for the police department and participant of the conference understands “plurality as a treasure”. A further issue is the legal equal treatment of Islam as a religion in Germany.


Dr. Naika Foroutan from the Humboldt University of Berlin understands integration as a commitment for all members of the society. Hence, the conference members demand the acceptance of dual citizenship.