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Most Western European Muslims are Islamic fundamentalists, study finds

Two thirds of the Muslims in Western Europe say that religious rules are more important to them than the laws of the country in which they live and three quarters of the respondents hold the opinion that there is only one legitimate interpretation of the Koran, a study has found[PDF].

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Ruud Koopmans from the WZB Berlin Social Science Center drew this conclusion after analyzing data from a representative survey among immigrants and natives in six European countries.

These numbers are significantly higher than those from local Christians, with only 13 percent of this group putting religious rules above national law and just under 20 percent refusing to accept differing interpretations of the Bible.

The researchers found that this powerful tendency toward Muslim religious fundamentalism is alarming.

“Fundamentalism is not an innocent form of strict religiosity,” the sociologist said. “We find a strong correlation between religious fundamentalism – actually among both Christians and Muslims – and hostility toward out-groups like homosexuals or Jews.”

Almost 60 percent of the Muslim respondents reject homosexuals as friends, 45 percent think that Jews cannot be trusted and an equally large group believes that the West is out to destroy Islam.

In contrast, among Christians, only 9 percent are openly anti-Semitic, 13 percent do not want to have homosexuals as friends, and 23 percent think that Muslims aim to destroy Western culture.

The Six Country Immigrant Integration Comparative Survey collected data in more than 9,000 telephone interviews in Germany, France, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium and Sweden. The respondents were Turkish and Moroccan immigrants, as well as control groups of natives. This study is the first that allows analysis on an empirical base of the extent and impact of religious fundamentalism.

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