The study called “Integrated, but not accepted?” compared the situations of Muslims who came to Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France and Great Britain before 2010. Categories for assessment included language skills, education, work and social contact.
Germany came out on top in a few categories, including the integration of Muslim immigrants into the labour market and low unemployment.
About 60 percent of Germany’s 4.7 million Muslims are in full time employment, in line with the national average. The unemployment rate among German Muslims (including part-time jobs) is actually better than for the rest of the population. While the Bertelsmann Foundation found that 5 percent of Muslims were unemployed, it recorded that 7 percent of the rest of the population had no job.
Regarding language skills, only 46 percent of Muslims surveyed learned to speak German as a first language as children. In France, the percent of Muslims who learned the local language as children is 74 percent, and in Britain 59 percent.
The study points out though that the origins of Muslims in both Britain and in France are different to Germany. Very good language acquisition exists in both countries due in part to the fact that the Muslim immigrants arrived from ex-colonies where the languages are already spoken.
The study revealed other weaknesses in the integration of Muslims in Germany.
While 11 percent of French Muslims leave school before the age of 17 without a diploma, the figure in Germany stands at 36 percent. Researchers in the study suspect different school systems might account for this. But despite higher graduation rates in France, Muslims there still encounter above average unemployment rates and fewer full-time job opportunities.
“The international comparison shows that it is not religious affiliation that determines the chances of success for integration, but rather, the state and economic framework,” says Stephan Vopel, an expert on social cohesion at the Bertelsmann Foundation.
The study moreover shows the reservations Germans have toward Muslims.
Respondents from all five European countries were more against the idea of having Muslims as neighbours than having big families, foreigners and guest workers, homosexuals, Jews, people of colour, atheists or Christians next door. Only in Britain were people more willing to live next to Muslims than next to families with children.
Visitors at Ramadanfest in Berlin in 2014. Photo: DPA.
Religious sociologist and professor at the University of Münster, Detlef Pollack, has criticized the study.
He argues that it’s difficult to broadly compare Muslims in western Europe because they’ve emigrated from different countries.
“We must also take into account what those who are coming bring along with them, so that integration works,” he said.
An assessment of integration from the perspective of Muslims is also missing, according to Pollack.