It has long been known – even to the German government: anti-Semitism is widespread among the Muslim population in Europe. According to a 2013 study by the Social Science Research Centre Berlin (WZB), almost half of European Muslims believe that Jews cannot be trusted. By comparison, only less than ten percent of Christians believe this.
Here, according to the study, there are hardly any differences in views between the first and second generation of Muslims in Germany, France or Great Britain. Religious fundamentalism, anti-Semitism and bigotry are widespread and deeply rooted.
No wonder 52 percent of Germans find Islam threatening, according to a 2019 study by the Bertelsmann Foundation. Muslim Germans were also surveyed.
The Jewish population experiences the hostility of Muslims first-hand. In a 2017 study by the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence in Bielefeld, 81 per cent of the Jews surveyed in Germany said they had already been attacked by Muslims, and 61 per cent had suffered verbal insults or harassment.
For experts, the causes are rooted in Islam: In the Islamic world, 53 per cent of the countries are ruled by authoritarian regimes, and only four per cent are democratic, writes WZB researcher Ruud Koopmans. In 2018, the Berlin historian and sociologist Günther Jikeli presented one of the few systematic studies on anti-Semitism among Muslims in Europe. He conducted interviews with young Muslim men of different ethnic backgrounds in London, Berlin and Paris.
In these interviews, he identified different forms of anti-Semitism: “classical anti-Semitism”, such as stereotypes that Jews are rich, forms of Israel-related anti-Semitism and an anti-Semitism that completely dispenses with justifications. For Jikeli, anti-Semitism “lies in the interpretation of Muslim identity”: hostility against Jews is thus part of Islam, of being Muslim. Anti-Semitism is not the exception but the rule among Muslims, hatred of Jews often is the norm, Jikeli concludes.
For the Hamburg political scientist Matthias Küntzel, the humiliation of Jews, who are seen as “weak and despicable”, is characteristic of Islam: “When Arab youths in Berlin chanted the slogan: ‘Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come out and fight alone’ in the summer of 2014, this devaluation became conspicuous. When in April 2018 an Arab in Berlin reached for his belt to whip a kippa-wearer with it, he too used an archaic language that expresses more than just violence: similar to spitting or slapping, the belt slap serves to degrade the other – the humiliation was more important here than the physical injury.”
Scholars see the influence of Arab, Iranian and Turkish media as one reason for the widespread anti-Semitism in Muslim milieus in Europe. Here, anti-Semitism is often expressed quite openly, according to the Institute for Democracy and Civil Society (IDZ) from Jena: “In addition, there is the influence of Islamist organisations, which are paid from abroad, on mosque associations and imams in Germany.
Physical attacks on Jews and the desecration and destruction of synagogues are mainly committed by young Muslim perpetrators, mostly of Arab descent, reports the IDZ. Muslim perpetrators are also responsible for numerous anti-Semitic murders in Europe in recent years: for example, for the attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012, in which a teacher and three children were shot dead, for the attack on the Jewish museum in Brussels in 2014, in which four people were killed, for the attack on a Jewish supermarket near Paris in 2015 with four deaths, for the attack on a synagogue in Copenhagen in 2015 with two deaths.
Interesting: The Central Council of Muslims in Germany also seats on the board of trustees of the IDZ.
So far, even unsolved anti-Semitic crimes are automatically attributed to right-wing extremists in police statistics: “But hostility towards Jews is also a problem among immigrants from Muslim countries. It’s a sensitive issue that many people don’t want to get their fingers burnt on,” Frankfurt professor Susanne Schröter, head of the Global Islam Research Centre, told FOCUS Online. According to Schröter, the statistics paint a false picture of the reality.