Since the purported role of Islam in the recent French riots seems particularly important to some readers outside of France, the results of a new poll just published in the French Catholic weekly La Vie are quite interesting for this blog. The survey is about whether France is losing its national identity. This is a persistent question in a country worried that its international influence and the prestige of its culture and language are fading while globalisation, immigration and Islam are playing a larger role in French life. The survey was conducted on November 28-29, only days after the rioting in a Paris suburb that some readers say should be called “Muslim riots.”
The overall picture the poll gives is one of a country mostly concerned about basic economic and social issues. Its threshold for integration is high and its Catholic tradition colours its view of other religions, despite the widespread secularisation of daily life. There is a minority clearly concerned about Islam. But religion as a general concern ranks low, so it’s not clear whether the roughly 30 percent concerned about immigration and Islam’s compatibility with French values see Muslims as religious believers or a socioeconomic underclass. Most likely it’s both.
The CSA institute gave 1,000 French questions with a list of answers and asked them to mark as many responses as they thought were relevant. The figures indicate the percentage of respondents choosing the response.
What are the main fears concerning French society? Unemployment 45 Poverty 44 Racism 29 Crime 28 Economic crisis 28 Pollution 25 Terrorism 21 Religious fundamentalism 19 Loss of French identity 14 Immigration 8 AIDS 8
What are the most important things residents of France should do? Participate in economic and social life in France 94 Respect the French flag 92 Speak French 92 Know the institutions of the French Republic 90 Know French history 84 Share the same values 80 Know the words of the Marseillaise (national anthem) 59 Share the same lifestyle 52 Be born in France 32 Have the same religion 14
Which religions are compatible with French national identity?