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Muslim fundamentalism in Europe… So what?
by Cas Mudde
As Erik Voeten recently posted, various European media recently reported on research on fundamentalism and out-group hostility by the Dutch sociologist Ruud Koopmans at the German Social Science Research Center (WZB), which found that "Islam fundamentalism is widely spread." Koopmans and his collaborators interviewed nearly 9,000 people in six West European countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden), including 3,373 'natives' and 5,548 'immigrants,' respectively of Moroccan (2,204) and Turkish (3,344) origin. The survey stands out because of its cross-national scope, its solid theoretical and empirical basis, and the high number of 'immigrant' respondents. That said, both the research report and the media reporting are interesting to analyze on the basis of what they do and don't mean.
As one would expect, the short research report is much more elaborate and nuanced than the media reports. Most notably, it adopts both a Muslim exceptionalism and a comparative fundamentalism approach. Regarding the latter, Koopmans rightly notes that religious fundamentalism is not unique to Islam, and that (both Christian and Muslim) fundamentalism is strongly correlated with out-group hostility. That said, much of the report is on Muslim exceptionalism, stressing that Muslims are much more fundamentalist (see figure 1) and hostile toward out-groups than Christians.
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