This paper examines the characteristics and values of Muslims in Europe based on accumulated data from the European Social Survey (ESS). Does the Muslim population share a uniform set of social and political values? Can differences be discerned between Muslims and non-Muslims? The data show that while the Muslim population exhibits special characteristics in relation to the rest of the population, it is relatively diverse from country to country. In terms of religion, numbers of believers and practising Muslims are quite high, which may be explained by a combination of factors relating to supply and demand. The data also confirm Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart’s theory on the link between ‘existential security’ and secularisation.
In political terms, Muslims are less politicised and participate less than other groups. They are rarely affiliated with the right, especially in France where the left has a significant presence. Contrary to what one might expect, Muslims have considerable faith in institutions, including the police. In terms of morals, Muslims hold more traditionalist opinions than the rest of the population. In more general terms, it appears that Muslims’ attitudes tend to match the characteristics of the population in their country of residence. This finding suggests that Islam is not immune to change. However, it is difficult to forecast future developments without fully understanding the dynamic of religiousness.
This paper is written by Vincent Tournier, a political science lecturer at the Institut d’études politiques de Grenoble-PACTE/CNRS.