Sarah Carol
Islamic religious rights in Germany: A Contentious Issue? Attitudes Towards Religious Symbols and Minarets

Council for European Studies, Paris, 09. Juli 2015

Which religious rights should be granted to Muslim migrants? This question has been at the center of the public debate in many countries including Germany. The most contested issues in Western Europe are headscarves (for teachers) and minarets. While previous studies compared nations, this study devotes attention to the case of Germany, as German federal states differ in their position towards religious symbols in public institutions substantially. Yet, little is known about the extent to which these policies are reflected in attitudes. Using the novel EURISLAM dataset with more than 1,000 natives and Muslim migrants, this study fills this gap. In addition to the comparison of natives and migrants, we are able to compare attitudes towards Islamic rights to attitudes towards Christian rights. Tentative evidence for policy effects is shown for attitudes of natives towards Christian religious symbols, which vary across federal states. Overall, headscarves for teachers receive least support by migrants and natives. However, attitudes of natives and migrants towards headscarves for teachers do not correspond to the actual policies. This finding suggests that policies reflect the attitudes of elites but not necessarily the attitudes of the population. For natives, institutional effects emanate from local mosques under control of other factors. The closer natives live to mosques the more positive their attitudes become. Moreover, religiosity is linked to more liberal attitudes of natives and Muslim migrants towards religious rights for out-groups.