Identity and (Muslim) Integration in Germany
Finding some of the deepest anti-Muslim sentiments in Europe within German public opinion, this report explores the relationship between German national identity and immigration. It provides an overview of demographics, trends, and current debates, before concluding with recommendation on how to challenge prevailing stereotypes of Muslims and ensure equal outcomes for immigrants and their descendants.
Despite the reality that one in five Germans today have a migration background, the report finds that the dominant perception remains one of a homogenous German society and racism and negative conduct toward people perceived to be “strangers” still prevail. Biased attitudes are especially strong toward Muslims, discriminated against across social, economic, and academic settings. Policymakers began addressing these integration issues around 2006, ushering a paradigmatic shift in German policy response to anti-Muslim sentiment — one which acknowledged anti-Muslim racism a parallel concern to Islamic fundamentalism and a threat to social cohesion.
Such a top-down approach has not translated into a bottom-up process reconciling Germany’s national identity with its contemporary demographics, the report's author suggests, positing that the figure of the Muslim likely serves as the contradictory “other” by which a contentious German national identity is defined and differentiated. The report suggests, however, that a new narrative of collective identity could be created by strengthening the concept of national identity around a shared adherence to the norms and values outlined in the constitution and by promoting a founding myth of a new post-war Germany, which recognizes the contribution of both immigrants and natives to its economic prosperity.
II. Germany as a Recent Country of Immigration
A. Demographic Overview
B. Perceptions of Germany’s Plural Society Today
C. Perceptions of Muslims
D. Policies on Migration and Integration
E. The Reality of Muslim Integration
III. National Identity and Immigration
IV. Recommendations for New Inclusive Narratives
B. Implications for Policymakers