European Muslim Antisemitism: Why Young Urban Males Say They Don't Like Jews

European Muslim Antisemitism: Why Young Urban Males Say They Don't Like Jews

by Günther Jikeli

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Antisemitism from Muslims has become a serious issue in Western Europe, although not often acknowledged as such. Looking for insights into the views and rationales of young Muslims toward Jews, Günther Jikeli and his colleagues interviewed 117 ordinary Muslim men in London (chiefly of South Asian background), Paris (chiefly North African), and Berlin (chiefly Turkish). The researchers sought information about stereotypes of Jews, arguments used to support hostility toward Jews, the role played by the Middle East conflict and Islamist ideology in perceptions of Jews, the possible sources of antisemitic views, and, by contrast, what would motivate Muslims to actively oppose antisemitism. They also learned how the men perceive discrimination and exclusion as well as their own national identification. This study is rich in qualitative data that will mark a significant step along the path toward a better understanding of contemporary antisemitism in Europe.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780253015259
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publication date: 02/16/2015
Series: Studies in Antisemitism
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Günther Jikeli is a research fellow at the Moses Mendelssohn Center for European-Jewish Studies, Potsdam University and at the Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (GSRL/CNRS), Paris.

Read an Excerpt

European Muslim Antisemitism

Why Young Urban Males Say They Don't Like Jews

By Günther Jikeli

Indiana University Press

Copyright © 2015 Günther Jikeli
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-253-01525-9


European Muslims: Between Integration and Discrimination

MUSLIMS ARE THE LARGEST RELIGIOUS MINORITY IN EUROPE, while Islam is the fastest growing religion: there are an estimated 15–20 million Muslims in the European Union, contributing to a total population of over 500 million Europeans. Approximately 70 percent of European Muslims live in Germany, France, or Great Britain. Europe's Muslim population is also diverse religiously, culturally, ethnically, and economically. Far from a homogeneous religion, Islam is interpreted differently by various sub-groups, ideological streams, and individuals.

Most Muslims in Europe are immigrants or descendants of immigrants from a variety of African, South Asian, and Middle Eastern countries, as well as from Turkey and the former Yugoslavia. The history and context of migration and the origins of European Muslims vary from country to country, often due to the country's colonial history, special ties with particular Muslim countries, and distinctive immigration policies.


The estimated number of Muslims in Germany is between 3.0 and 4.3 million, up to 45 percent of whom are German citizens. Muslims, therefore, form approximately 5 percent of the population in Germany, with higher percentages residing in urban areas. The large majority are Turkish immigrants or their descendants, roughly one quarter of whom are ethnic Kurds. The second-largest group comes from the former Yugoslavia, followed by the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.

A significant migration of Muslims to Germany started in the early 1960s when West Germany officially began to recruit low-skilled workers from Turkey for Germany's growing industry in the postwar era. Recruitment contracts were later signed with other countries; those signed with Muslim populations included Morocco, Tunisia, and Yugoslavia.

In 1973, the economic recession brought an end to the recruitment of the "Gastarbeiter" ("guest" or foreign-born workers). Foreign workers, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, were expected to go back to their countries of origin, but only half of the four million migrants at the time actually left Germany. Clearly, the end of the recruitment program did not have the intended effect of diminishing the number of foreigners. On the contrary, fearing even stricter controls on immigration, many "guest workers" brought their families to Germany. Family reunion and marriage migration subsequently became the dominant form of migration after 1973.

Due to this change in the character of migration, the migrants moved out of workers' accommodations, often to run-down, inner-city areas. Even today most Muslims live in current or former industrial areas, often concentrated in certain districts, while only a few live on the territory of the former German Democratic Republic. Another wave of Muslim immigrants arrived in the early 1980s and onward as refugees or asylum seekers. Many political refugees came from Turkey as a result of the coup d'état in 1980 and the civil war in southeast Turkey. Others came from the Middle East, North Africa, and the former Yugoslavia. The introduction of restrictive laws in 1991 and 1993 drastically reduced the number of refugees coming to Germany.

Most Muslims in Germany are Sunni, but about 13 percent are Alevis, a particular liberal current of Islam. Shiites form approximately 7 percent of Muslims in Germany, while others, such as Ahmadiyas and Sufis, comprise about 6 percent of the Muslim population.

Muslim organizations are often formed along ethnic lines, but relatively few organizations are formed as an explicitly Turkish or another ethnic (as opposed to Islamic) group primarily, such as the Türkischer Bund Deutschland. The diversity of the Muslim population is reflected in the diversity of Muslim organizations. In 2003, there were about 2,400 local associations, along with a number of associations on the regional and federal level. However, official membership in these organizations is low (about 10 percent). In 2006, the German government established the German Islam Conference, where Muslim representatives, including those from the major organizations, meet representatives of the government on a regular basis.

The Türkisch-Islamische Union der Anstalt für Religion (TurkishIslamic Union for Religious Affairs, DiTiB) is the largest Muslim organization in Germany. It has strong ties to the Turkish government and therefore has a secular orientation, abiding to the strong secular traditions and laws of the Turkish state. However, the ruling party in Turkey today, the Justice and Development Party, is considered to be Islamist and influences DITIB.

The Islamische Gemeinschaft Milli Görü§ (IGMG) is the second-largest organization, heading 323 mosques and cultural associations in Germany. The IGMG is closely related to the Islamist Milli Görüs movement in Turkey, which held Necmettin Erbakan as its leader until his death in February 2011. The movement aims to establish a global Islamic society founded upon Shari'a law. Representatives regularly denounce capitalism, imperialism, Zionism, and racism. The Islamrat, acting as a representative body on a national level, is almost identical to the IGMG.

The Verband Islamischer Kulturzentren (VIKZ) boasts the third-largest membership. Its anti-Western indoctrination of students in their facilities has often been criticized.

The Zentralrat der Muslime in Deutschland (ZMD) encompasses three main subgroups among its nineteen member organizations: the Union der Türkisch-Islamischen Kulturvereine in Europa (ATIP), a religious spinoff of the extremist-nationalist Turkish group Grey Wolves, with approximately 8,000 members; networks associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, such as the Islamische Gemeinschaft in Deutschland (IGD); and Iran-oriented Shiites of various origins. The Islamische Gemeinschaft der Bosniaken is an associated member of the ZMD and is linked to the Islamic Association in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The secular Alevitische Gemeinde Deutschland represents some ninety local Alevite organizations with Turkish and Kurdish members.

Due to the strong Turkish community and the ties of many Muslim organizations to Turkey, Islam in Germany is still very much influenced by Turkish interpretations of Islam. However, Muslim organizations are not representative and many Muslims are not even aware of them. The best known is DITIB (44 percent knew of the organization in 2008), but only 39 percent of those who were familiar with the organization felt represented by it. In 2008, 50 percent of Muslims in Germany did not feel represented by any Muslim organization on religious issues.


The estimated number of Muslims in France is 4–5 million, representing 6–7.5 percent of the population, with a significantly higher percentage in some regions, particularly Ile-de-France, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Rhône-Alpes, and Nord-Pas-de-Calais. Some 80 percent of Muslims in France are immigrants or descendants of immigrants from former colonies in the Maghreb–most are Arabs, but many are also Berbers, coming from Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. Other ethnicities include people from Turkey, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East.

Before World War II, only a small number of Muslim workers migrated to France, and those who did were mainly Berbers from North Africa. Additionally, some of the 86,000 men from North Africa who served in the French army in World War I settled in France. After World War II the growing economy of the 1950s required manpower, which was a major factor contributing to immigration from colonies, and also led to bilateral agreements with such countries as Morocco and Turkey to recruit workers. Muslim immigration from Algeria also brought about the arrival of pro-French refugees before Algeria's independence in 1962.

With the economic crisis of the early 1970s, the recruitment programs were stopped and legislation made immigration to France from non-EU countries difficult. Migration then consisted largely of people arriving to reunite with their families. Another wave of Muslim immigrants arrived with the rise of refugees, who hailed largely from Turkey in the 1980s and Bosnia in the 1990s.

In 1994, there were 1,685 Muslim prayer rooms in France, only some of which were mosques. The estimated number today is more than 2,000. Most Islamic organizations in France are influenced by foreign countries. This influence of foreign countries has been a cause for concern for the French authorities since the 1980s, due to the fact that some organizations promote Islamist ideologies and the interests of foreign states. Despite France's strong secular tradition, the French government enhanced the establishment of the Muslim umbrella organization Conseil français du culte musulman (CFCM) in 2003 with the aim of creating a representative body for Muslim organizations. Its representativeness for Muslims in France is disputed, however, because only 25 percent of French Muslims regularly visit a mosque. Critics charge the CFCM with supporting extremists and, indeed, some leading organizations within the group promote Islamist ideologies.

There are six main Muslim associations in France, all represented within the CFCM:

(1) The Institut Musulman de la Mosquée de Paris, which was formed in 1916 and historically linked to Algeria, and is attached to the Paris Mosque.

(2) The Union des Organisations Islamiques de France (UOIF), which is an affiliate of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe and close to the Muslim Brotherhood, was formed in 1983 and is the largest Muslim organization in France today.

(3) The Fédération Nationale des Musulmans de France (FNMF) was established in 1985 and is supported by Morocco.

(4) The Fédération Invitation et Mission pour la Foi et la Pratique is the French chapter of the orthodox group Tablighi Jamaat, one of the largest transnational Muslim movements.

(5) The Fédération française des associations islamiques d'Afrique, des Comores et des Antilles is an umbrella organization for Muslims who adhere to a traditional form of Islam rooted in African and French West Indian culture.

(6) The Comité de Coordination des Musulmans Turcs de France (CCMTF) is linked to the DITIB (Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs) in Turkey.

The more moderate umbrella organization Rassemblement des Musulmans de France (RMF) was founded in 2006 to complement the CFCM and is supported by Morocco. It participated in the 2011 elections of the Conseil français du culte musulman and won the majority of seats, while the UOIF boycotted the elections in 2011 and 2013.


In the 2011 UK census, 2.7 million people identified as Muslim, a sharp increase from 1.6 million in 2001. The majority hold British citizenship. Muslims make up the country's second-largest religious community, comprising 4.8 percent of the population, with a higher percentage in urban areas. Approximately one million Muslims live in London. The London Borough of Tower Hamlets hosted the highest proportion of Muslims at 34.5 percent.

Most Muslims are immigrants or their descendants from former British colonies in South Asia, today's Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India. In 2001, 74 percent of the Muslim population had a South Asian background, while 4 percent were white British Muslims, 7 percent were other white Muslims, 4 percent identified as partly Muslim and partly adherents of another religion, and 6 percent were black African.

Whereas a Muslim presence in Britain can be traced back 300 years to sailors who were employed with the British East India Company, Muslim migration on a larger scale started only after World War II, in a context similar to that in Germany and France. The first phase spanned from 1945 to the early 1970s, and included mainly young male migrants from Commonwealth countries who had come to work as unskilled laborers in Britain's growing economy. Until the Commonwealth Immigrants Act in 1962, entry to the UK was unrestricted for Commonwealth citizens. The expulsion of South Asians from East Africa during the time of "Africanization" in the late 1960s and early 1970s brought another group of Muslim immigrants to Britain. Many of those who arrived initially as pioneers were joined by members of their villages or kin networks in a process often described as "chain migration." Particularly in the years and months before the restrictive Immigration Act 1970, many brought over their families, wives, and children.

The second phase, which lasted until around 1990, was characterized by the formation of new families and the creation of a Britain-born generation. The third phase covers those who arrived from the 1990s as refugees rather than economic migrants. Political persecutions and civil wars were major factors that drove asylum seekers from Turkey, the former Yugoslavia, North Africa, Somalia, and the Middle East to Britain. Today, the largest group of newly arriving immigrants to the UK are students, many of whom are Muslim.

Although there are no official figures for the number of mosques in the UK, one oft-quoted estimate is a figure of around 1,600. In 2004, there were five Muslim State schools in England and 120 private Muslim schools in Britain.

Britain hosts a large number of Muslim organizations, many of which have links to radical Islamist groups. For many years Britain had a noteworthy policy that tolerated Islamist radicals and their organizations that were banned in their own countries. Consequently, a number of international Islamist organizations have established themselves in the UK; some of them have their headquarters in the UK, such as the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe and the associated European Council for Fatwa and Research, both of which serve to advance the Muslim Brotherhood ideology. Some prominent organizations like Hizb-ut Tahir and now-banned radical groups such as Al Muhajiroun and Sharia4 Britain openly strive for an Islamic state and frequently express hatred against Jews and the West.

Muslim organizations with links to Islamism exert influence on Muslims via mosques, madrasas, Muslim religious schools, the internet, and newspapers and magazines targeting a British Muslim audience.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) was established in 1997 as an umbrella organization and represents more than 350 mosques around the country. The MCB is linked to two international Islamist organizations, the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-I-Islami. However, the majority group of Sufi Muslims established their own council in 2006, the Sufi Muslim Council.

The strength of Islamist groups in Britain has been bolstered by both Iranian support and a flow of money from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to be used for new religious facilities, buildings, publications, and education resources. Wahabism, the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia, and Deobandism, centered primarily in Pakistan and India, are fundamentalist movements active in Britain that are largely funded from abroad. The latter is influential in more than a third of British mosques and produces the majority of domestically trained clerics. Tablighi Jamaat is the largest Muslim group in the UK and promotes the ideas of Deobandism. The group claims to be purely apolitical and preaches strict religious practice, but it has also been criticized for Islamist tendencies. In recent years, some, though still marginal, secular groups such as Progressive British Muslims and Muslims for Secular Democracy have also raised their voices.

However, as in Germany and France, the majority of British Muslims (51 percent) do not feel represented by any existing Islamic organization. Thus, despite the existence of a number of Islamist organizations and the influence of Islamism in major Muslim organizations in Europe, the observation of Muslim organizations should not be the only approach to evaluating attitudes among the diverse Muslim communities.


Although the majority of European Muslims are by now a long-standing and integral part of the fabric of the cities, regions, and countries in which they reside, many experience social and economic discrimination. The large majority still has a working class background and shares social disadvantages, even compared to other groups with a similar history of immigration. Unemployment rates are particularly high among Muslims, the average level of formal qualifications is relatively low, and housing conditions are also poorer for this group. Even so, unemployment can vary considerably between Muslims of different ethnic origins. In 2001 the unemployment rate was measured at 11 percent for male Indian Muslims in the UK, while the rate for Black Muslims was a significantly higher 28 percent. However, in recent years, economic, social, and political integration of European Muslims seems to be growing for some parts of Muslim communities, as a number of success stories illustrate.


Excerpted from European Muslim Antisemitism by Günther Jikeli. Copyright © 2015 Günther Jikeli. Excerpted by permission of Indiana University Press.
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Table of Contents

1. European Muslims: Between Integration and Discrimination
2. Debates and Surveys on European Muslim Antisemitism
3. An Empirical Study: Interviews with Young Male Muslims in Europe
4. Patterns of Antisemitism
5. "Classic" Modern Antisemitism
6. Antisemitism Related to Israel
7. Antisemitism Related to Islam, Religious or Ethnic Identity
8. Antisemitism Without Justification or Rationalization
9. Perceptions of the Holocaust
10. Sources of Antisemitic Attitudes
11. Positive Examples: Rejecting Antisemitism
12. Conclusion

What People are Saying About This

University of Minnesota - Alejandro Baer

A valuable work of sociological research in a highly topical area of great relevance. By embracing a de-essentializing perspective, Jikeli helps the reader to understand the phenomenon in its full scope and makes it a useful tool for policy makers, educators, religious scholars, social workers, and sociologists.

Director, Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism, Hebrew University of Jer - Robert S. Wistrich

Gunter Jikeli's nuanced study, based on in-depth interviews conducted with young Muslims in France, Germany, and Britain, is an important contribution to our understanding of the pervasiveness of contemporary European Muslim antisemitism. It is especially timely in the light of recent events in Europe, in which radicalized Muslims have emerged as the chief perpetrators of antisemitic violence and terrorist attacks. Most disturbing of all, as Jikeli clearly shows, is the normalization of anti-Jewish hostility in the West European Muslim milieu which he has carefully investigated.

Head of the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, Tel Aviv University. - Dina Porat

Jikeli's new book, based on about 120 wide and deep scope interviews with young urban Moslem males, as the author defines them, most of whom 'don't like Jews,' is a courageous, non-politically correct first class research. Built step by step, the book first offers a picture of the state of the art in research and public debate, which later enhances the author's own contribution. Jikeli then goes on to present ample interview material, organized according to the relevant themes, and continues towards analysis and conclusions. The outcome is disturbing, even alarming, one that calls for urgent awareness and possible solution findings.

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