The Image of Islam Deteriorates in France
An article in Le Figaro, dated October 24, indicates that the image of Islam is rapidly deteriorating in France: A study conducted by IFOP (Public Opinion Institute) for Le Figaro shows that the rise of ethnic separatist communities among some Muslims in France is strengthening the public rejection.
The Muslim community of France is preparing to celebrate its biggest holiday of the year, Eid-el-Kebir, the feast of the sacrifice. It falls the day after millions of pilgrims gather on Mount Arafat near Mecca. This holiday commemorates the act of sacrifice, interrupted by the angel, of Ibrahim (Abraham). Therefore, after the sermon of Eid, the Muslim families will sacrifice a sheep or a ram, sometimes a bovine or a goat, lying on its left side, head turned toward Mecca.
A holiday that occurs in a France that has more and more doubts about this religion, as an exclusive study from IFOP for Le Figaro demonstrates, as do spectacular events such as the symbolic occupation, last Saturday, of the Poitiers mosque. "Our study shows an evolution that is moving in the direction of a greater hardening of the French toward this religion and a reenforced negative perception of Islam," explains Jérôme Fourquet, a director of IFOP. "Even if a significant proportion of the French, 40%, still say they are indifferent to the presence of Islam in France."
If 43% of those questioned consider Islam to be a "threat", this hardening is tied to a greatly increased "visibility" of Islam in public places and in the media. "For several years, there has not been a week without Islam being at the heart of current events, be they societal issues, the veil, halal food, or dramatic geopolitical events or attacks." Hence another impression: 60% believe that this religion now has "too much importance". Just two years ago it was 55%. And those who claim to be indifferent to this question go from 41% to 35%.
No longer a temporary problem
"From this angle," adds Jérôme Fourquet, "the controversy over halal fast-food in Roubaix - which was greatly exploited politically - or ads promoting halal food, had more of an effect than any political speech. They confirm the irreversibility in public opinion of the rooting of Islam in France, which is no longer seen as a temporary problem. There is one key to interpreting this poll: this permanent sounding board leads to a new level of consciousness that has never perhaps been attained to such an extent."
An analysis that becomes clearer when questions on the Islamic veil or the building of mosques are asked. In 1989, 33% of those questioned were favorable to the construction of mosques. Today it is only 18%. As for the veil in the street, those opposed went from 31% to 63%. And those indifferent have virtually dissolved from half to only 28%. And as for the veil in schools, the red light goes on since, for the same period, those opposed increase from 75% to 89%! And those indifferent plummet from 17% to 6%.
The rejection of Western values
On these precise subjects, easily perceived in everyday life, the "negative opinions converge and we don't see how they could reverse themselves now," observes Jérôme Fourquet. "This is how we can verify the radicalization of public opinion and this lessening of indifference toward Islam." When they asked the French what "the causes" were of this rejection: the "refusal to integrate into French society" moved from 61 to 68% in two years. "Strong cultural differences" went from 40 to 52% and the fact that people of Muslim origin are grouped together in certain neighborhoods and certain schools" went from 37 to 47%. As for the question of "the trait associated with the general image of Islam", the "rejection of Western values" is first on the list by far. (continue reading...)