The Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism

Antisemitism widespread among Muslim immigrants

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Distrust and prejudice against Jews in Denmark doesn’t thrive only in extremist groups. Up to 75% of immigrants from five different countries and 20% of ethnic Danes have anti-Jewish attitudes.

The data comes from a new study which appears in the book “Danmark og de fremmede: Om mødet med den arabisk-muslimske verden” (Denmark and the stranger: on the meeting with the Arab-Muslim world), which will be published Friday.

The study is based on interviews with 1503 immigrants from five different groups: Turks, Pakistanis, Somalis, Palestinians and ex-Yugoslavians – as well as 300 ethnic Danes.

All were asked three questions, which deal with their attitudes towards various groups in society and not just to Jews. But it’s the Jews that the five groups are clearly most distrustful and prejudiced against.

65.8% of the five immigrant groups said that one “can’t be careful enough in relation to Jews in Denmark.” 75.2% don’t want a family member to marry a Danish Jew. And 31.9% think that ‘there are too many Jews in Denmark’.

“The study shows that the anti-Jewish attitudes are certainly not unique to extremist circles. The attitudes are far, far more widespread among the immigrants, then we usually think,” says professor Peter Nannestad of the Institute for Political Science at Aarhus University, who made the study.

But ethnic Danes can’t be said to be free of anti-Jewish attitudes. For example, 18.2% of them think that one ‘can’t be careful enough in relation to Jews in Denmark’, and 14.7% don’t want to see a family member marry a Danish Jew.

Peter Nannestad says that the figures aren’t surprising, but are roughly in line with what is seen in other studies. He refers to an American study of antisemitism in Europe from 2006, which gave the same picture of Danish attitudes towards Jews.

Chief Rabbi Bent Lexner of the Mosaic Faith-society isn’t surprised by the data. He says that it’s probably Danish naivety which makes people think it isn’t so. “Since the situation is so. It’s not a coincidence that the government is working on an action plan on how to create better awareness of the Jewish community in Denmark in such groups.”

The study shows, additionally, that anti-Jewish attitudes are strikingly more widespread among the immigrants who define themselves as Muslims than among Christian immigrants.

The spokesperson for the Muslim Joint Council, Zubair Butt Hussain, didn’t want to comment on the study since he hasn’t read it yet. But racism – regardless of whether it’s in the form of antisemitism, racism against Danish Muslims or other groups – is completely and totally unacceptable, he says.