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Half of Austrians believe Islam a 'threat'

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Half of Austrians believe Islam a 'threat'
Photo: APA/EPA/F G Guerrero
19:27 CET+01:00
A new survey carried out in December and published on Saturday by Der Standard newspaper shows that more than half (51 percent) of the respondents say that Islam is a threat to Austrian society.
The burning issue of early January is the tragic events in Paris, leaving 19 people dead - three of whom were suspected Islamic terrorists.  After these events, the question of European attitudes towards Islam, and its integration and peaceful co-existence with Western society, becomes increasingly important.
 
How do Austrians perceive Islam?  What are their concerns, and how will this perception shape future policies?  The survey polled more than 400 respondents in Austria to find out their views.
 
Generally, according to the survey, Austrians have a limited understanding of the world's second largest religion, consisting of 23 percent of the world's population.
 
The survey found that 51 percent of Austrians consider Islam a threat to Austrian society, while only 34 percent believe that it represents no threat.  Additionally, 50 percent think that Islam is attempting to change Austrian society, with 25 percent thinking that's not the case.
 
40 percent of Austrians see Islam as a backward religion, as opposed to 27 percent who disagree.
 
Two thirds of respondents believe that Muslims in Austria are trying to distance themselves from the actions of the Isis terrorists in Syria and Iraq, while 14 percent think that Austria's Muslims support them.
 
A similar amount of two-thirds (66 percent) find the way that Muslims dress is disturbing - especially the obligation for women to be veiled or to wear a headscarf - while only 14 percent aren't bothered.
 
When asked if the fears of Islam in Austria are exaggerated, 50 percent said no, while only a third agree with that statement.
 
Finally, when asked if they agree that "most Austrians don't know what Islam really is", 72 percent agreed, and only 11 percent disagreed.

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