According to a recent study by the German Bertelsmann Stiftung, religious tolerance is widespread in Germany - but that does not apply to all religions.

The results of a recent study by the Germany-based Bertelsmann Stiftung foundation showed that half of Germans perceive Islam as a threat. 

Researchers from the organisation found that 87 percent of those surveyed are generally open to other worldviews except when it came to Islam.

Only one-third of the German population saw Islam as enriching to society, whereas Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism were perceived as enriching society by a majority. About half of those surveyed perceive Islam as a threat.

Overall 70 percent believed there was truthfulness in other religions. But just under one in two in Germany think that religious plurality enriches society. 

The study named Weltanschauliche Vielfalt und Demokratie is based on data from the foundation’s last Religion Monitor, published in 2017. In a follow-up survey this year, around 1,000 Germans were interviewed on a representative basis.

The foundation analysed the interplay of religion, religious and ideological pluralism, and political culture in democracy in Germany - as well as in some neighbouring countries. 

This widespread perception of Islam, raises questions over the safety of Muslims, particularly in light of recent attacks and threats targeting Muslims in Germany. 

Anti-Muslim hatred or ‘Islamic scepticism’?

Scepticism towards Islam does not necessarily mean Islamophobia, stressed Yasemin El-Menouar, Bertelsmann Stiftung's religious expert. Only a minority of citizens, she says, show a clearly anti-Islamic hatred, holding views such as wanting to stop Muslim immigration

The proportion of people with Islam-hating views has fallen overall in recent years: while in 2017 it was at 20 percent, in 2019 it was only 13 percent. 

According to El-Menouar the real danger to society is religious dogmatism and closed world views. "These sources of danger are relatively weak in Germany,” she explained.

The widespread ‘scepticism’ about Islam and Muslims, she said, was a cause forconcern: "Existing reservations (on Islam) offer right-wing populist groups and parties points of contact," El-Menouar said. 

She believes one cause for the prevailing negative image of Islam are social debates and media reports in recent years, which in her opinion often place Islam in a negative and critical context.

Source: TRT World