Germany’s 5.5 million Muslims encounter regular instances of structural racism, according to a recent report. The study, presented at the interior ministry in Berlin on Thursday, sheds light on the prevalence of racism, hatred, and violence experienced by Muslims in the country.
Alarming Findings Highlighting Muslim Hostility in Germany
The Independent Group of Experts on Muslim Hostility dedicated three years to compiling a comprehensive report on racism and animosity towards Germany’s 5.5 million Muslim population. By analyzing scientific studies, police crime statistics, and records of anti-Muslim incidents documented by anti-discrimination agencies, counseling centers, and non-governmental organizations, the group arrived at significant conclusions.
The report indicates that at least one-third of Germany’s Muslims have encountered hostility due to their religious affiliation. However, experts believe that the actual figures are likely much higher, as only 10 percent of Muslims tend to report incidents of hostility and hate crimes against them.
Interior Minister Nancy Faeser emphasized, “Muslim life is an integral part of Germany,” expressing her deep disappointment with the findings of this inaugural comprehensive report on Muslim hostility in Germany.
Ingrained Stereotyping and Discrimination Faced by German Muslims
The report also highlights the pervasive stereotyping and discrimination that German Muslims endure on a daily basis, from childhood to old age. Negative prejudices towards the Muslim community manifest as attributions of widespread, unchangeable, and regressive characteristics that are considered threatening. Consequently, Muslims in Germany face exclusion and discrimination from the broader society, which often perceives them as “the others,” despite 50 percent of Muslims in the country holding German passports.
Germany’s Muslim population comprises diverse backgrounds, with the majority tracing their roots to Turkey. Others originally migrated from Arabic countries such as Morocco or Lebanon. Over 60 years ago, many were recruited as “guest workers” to support Germany’s economic progress. While initially intended as temporary employees, they decided to stay, bringing their families along. As a result, cities like Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, and other western and southwestern German cities now boast large immigrant communities.
Pervasive Hostility across All Aspects of Life
The researchers discovered that Muslim hostility is prevalent in almost every facet of life, including educational institutions, law enforcement, national, regional, and municipal agencies, the private job sector, the housing market, the media, and politics. Karima Benbrahim, one of the study’s authors, emphasized the need for a collective effort from both society and its institutions to raise awareness about and combat Muslim hostility.
According to the study, educational institutions provide examples of anti-Muslim sentiment. The authors cited excerpts from a 2019 political science schoolbook that perpetuated stereotypes about Muslims, claiming that they “aspire to a better life while insisting on maintaining their identity, which includes headscarves, mosques, prayers in schools, forced marriages, and the oppression of women.” The book further stated that “for many of them, these practices are part of their sense of ‘us.’ The problem is: It conflicts with our sense of ‘us.'”
Kai Hafez, another author of the study from the University of Erfurt, emphasized that racism against Muslims is not confined to Germany’s far-right extremists. The middle of society must also challenge and overcome stereotypical views of Muslims.
Hafez stressed the urgent need for fundamental and structural anti-racist reforms in Germany. The report calls for society to acknowledge the pervasive nature of Muslim hostility and work collectively to address this pressing issue that affects everyone in the country.