Should immigrants give up their home culture

Muslims: What the integration study really says


Read on one side

At the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena one is stunned: A team of psychologists, sociologists and communication scientists spent a year and a half doing meticulous research. The researchers wanted to find out what the world of young Muslims really is like in Germany, together with colleagues from other universities and a social research institute.

The researchers worked as precisely as possible. They finally wanted to be able to make empirically reliable statements. A 750-page font was created that was to be published on Thursday afternoon.

But then that: "Study shows: Every fifth Muslim in Germany does not want to integrate," wrote on Thursday morning picture -Newspaper. Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU) immediately raised the warning finger in the newspaper report: "Those who fight freedom and democracy will have no future here."

Trouble because of one-sided representation

The employees of the study were "emotionally excited" about this one-sided judgment, says project manager Wolfgang Frindte ZEIT ONLINE. "The focus was on a small detail," emphasizes the Jena professor for communication sciences. Because the very complex research result cannot be summed up in a crisp headline. Rather, it is as ambivalent as life. The résumé of the researchers says one thing above all, something that is well known: "Integration is a two-way process that can only succeed if both the migrants and the German majority population work together."

Muslims want to integrate, but not give up their origins

The study approached the realities of Muslims in several ways. The scientists interviewed six families and the generations living in them in detail, they conducted a telephone survey of more than 700 German, Arabic and Turkish-speaking young people, and they evaluated over 6,700 postings in Muslim Internet forums.

The following main results can be summarized: Most Muslims feel comfortable in Germany. Above all, the members of the immigrant families born in this country identify strongly with the Federal Republic. At the same time, almost all of them have a strong bond with their home culture; they do not want to give up this Muslim identity entirely.

Muslims find that the German population is very distant from them. They can't shake the feeling that total assimilation is required of them. In fact, many Muslims are more likely to have social relationships with other Muslims simply because they "find them to be familiar and more intimate".

An aspect that is important for the willingness to integrate, the researchers also say, seems to be for Muslims the feeling of being accepted by their German environment. The researchers found a stronger emphasis on their own Muslim identity among their respondents after Thilo Sarrazin published a book skeptical of integration in 2010, which caused uncertainty and anger among Muslims. The authors of the study emphasize, however, that one can only draw empirically reliable conclusions from this observation to a limited extent.

A statistically significant result, on the other hand, is that Muslims with a German passport are more willing to integrate than Muslims with foreign citizenship. The researchers define integration as the "preservation of the traditional culture of origin and the simultaneous readiness to adopt the German majority culture". According to the study, 78 percent of German Muslims between the ages of 18 and 32 support integration, while 52 percent of Muslims are of foreign nationality. For the others, that just means that at the moment they still feel more connected to their culture of origin.