Common Concerns About Islamic ExtremismMuslim-Western Tensions Persist
National vs. Religious Identity
Across the nations surveyed, Christians and Muslims differ in the degree to which religion defines their identity. Among most of the Muslim publics polled, Muslims tend to identify with their religion, rather than their nationality. This is particularly true in Pakistan, where 94% think of themselves primarily as Muslim instead of Pakistani.
Lebanon and the Palestinian territories are exceptions to this pattern, however – more Muslims in both countries identify first with their nationality rather than with their religion. And many Muslims refuse to choose between nation and religion, volunteering that they identify with both.
Throughout Europe, most Christians think of themselves primarily in terms of their national identity. Fully 90% of French Christians take this view. The clear exception is the U.S., where Christians are divided: 46% primarily identify as American and 46% as Christian. Seven-in-ten white evangelical Christians in the U.S. identify first with their religion.
Both of the major religious communities in Israel identify primarily with their religion. Nearly six-in-ten (57%) Jews identify first as Jews, while among the country’s Muslim community 77% think of themselves first as Muslims.
You must be a Jewish National in order to become an Israeli citizen automatically ! (The Law of Return)
- There is a widespread perception that Muslims living in the West do not want to assimilate. Majorities in Europe and the U.S. think Muslims wish to remain distinct from the rest of society, instead of embracing the way of life in Western nations. More than two-thirds in Germany and Spain believe Muslims do not want to adopt national customs.
- Among Muslim publics, many believe that Americans and Europeans are hostile toward Muslims. In fact, in Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, and Jordan, the belief that Americans and Europeans are hostile has become more common since 2006.
- In Western nations, those who believe some religions are more prone to violence than others tend to say Islam is the most violent faith (when asked to choose among Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism). Muslim publics who think some religions are especially prone to violence tend to name Judaism.
- Concerns about Islamic extremism have declined significantly in Jordan over the last five years. Currently, 47% of Jordanian Muslims are worried about extremism, down from 69% in a spring 2006 poll conducted just months after the November 2005 bombing of three Amman hotels.
- Lebanese Muslims are consistently the least likely to assign negative characteristics to Westerners – less than half think Westerners are selfish, violent, greedy, immoral, arrogant, or fanatical.
- There is an education gap on views about Muslim assimilation – in Western Europe and the U.S., those who do not have a college degree are more likely than those who do to believe that Muslims want to remain distinct from the broader society.