French consider Jews ‘tolerant,’ distrust Islam
Poll shows nearly three-quarters of respondents view Muslims as unwilling to accept other groups
PARIS — A survey in one of France’s largest newspapers has found that the country holds largely positive views of Jews and a generally negative opinion of Islam.
The study, published Jan. 24 in the left-leaning Le Monde, reported that a decisive majority of French citizens consider Judaism and Christianity “tolerant,” while an even larger number consider Islam “intolerant.”
According to the survey, carried out by the Ipsos polling institute, 72 percent of the French consider Catholicism either “completely” or “fairly” accepting of other groups, with 66 percent sharing similar attitudes toward Jews. Seventy-four percent see Islam as intolerant.
Published Jan. 24, the survey also found that eight out of 10 French people believe Islam is trying to impose its views on others, with 74 percent describing the religion as “incompatible” with French values.
Even though most respondents didn’t know how to define religious fundamentalism, 77 percent view it is a serious concern.
Almost half said that many — though not all — Muslims are fundamentalists, and another 10 percent believe a majority are fundamentalists.
French philosopher Abdennour Bidar, an expert on Islam and secularism, blamed French distrust of Muslims partly on the financial crisis, telling the left-leaning newspaper, “It nurtures a sense of anxiety, intolerance, and racism.”
Based on an Internet survey of approximately 1,000 respondents, the poll also highlighted French misgivings about immigration policy and other issues.
Forty-six percent of those questioned believe unemployment can only be cut by reducing immigration, and 62 percent said they no longer feel at home in France.
In October, the right-leaning Le Figaro newspaper published a survey by the Ifop polling firm that found that 43 percent of the French see Muslims as a threat to their national identity.