My child marry a Muslim? Over half of France says no – controversial poll

Members of the Muslim community pray in a mosque in Marseille during an open day weekend for mosques in France © Jean-Paul Pelissier
A survey gauging racist sentiment polled the French on how they would react if their children married Muslims and whether they think that there are too many Jews in France. The results have turned out to be shocking.

The provocative poll published in the French weekly Le Journal Du Dimanche (JDD) was commissioned by the Jewish Foundation of France. It was conducted over the course of 18 months by Ipsos which asked 1,000 random people questions. Furthermore the pollsters sourced additional respondents from the Jewish and Muslim communities to allegedly level the bias. Many regarded the questions to be inflammatory.

One of the questions to respondents was about their likely reaction should their children marry a person from another ethnic group or a person of the same sex. More than half of French respondents said they would not like it if their daughter-in law or son-in-law were Muslim.

The respondents were also asked whether they personally have “had issues” with people from ethnic and religious minorities. Twenty-nine percent said they had been harassed by migrants from the Maghreb countries, a slightly smaller percentage said the same about Roma and Muslims.

Almost a third of the people polled said that the racist reaction can be justified and 66 percent believe that they cannot trust most people.

The poll focused on two particular minority groups: Muslims and Jews.

Almost a third of those polled believed that Muslims are poorly integrated into French society. More than half of respondents said they would be annoyed to see a woman covering her face with a veil. Fifty-four percent believe that immigrants are not a source of enrichment for France.

The study also tried to reveal whether the French are prone to some anti-Semitic sentiments. More than 50 percent seemed to think that Jews are richer than the French, have a lot of power, and have more connection with Israel than with France. Ninety-one percent of respondents said that Jews in France are “very insular” and 13 percent even said that there are too many of them.

Ariel Goldmann, the president of the Jewish organization which backed the study called the results of the poll alarming saying that it proved a growing intolerance in French society.

"This study is neither accusatory or generalist. It is more of a measure of the ills that plague us as French people," he said as cited by JDD.

The research, however, was sharply criticized for being inflammatory and provocative.
“How can you publish such a poll? Being Muslim, Jewish or Catholic is not a “type of person”, it’s a belief!” Gerald Darmanin, the mayor of Tourcoing in northern France wrote on his Twitter page.

Nathalie Goulet, the vice-chairwoman of the senate foreign affairs committee, even called on the minister of Justice to launch an investigation against JDD for publishing the “odious” survey.

“Dear Minister of Justice … could you take action immediately against @leJDD,” she tweeted.

The problem of tolerance in French society became more urgent after the eruption of the refugee crisis last year, in addition to a heightened fear of terror attacks committed by Islamists after their incidence rate rose.

Since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January 2015, the number of hate crimes has tripled against Muslims and doubled against Jews, the Telegraph reported citing official figures.

"Racism, anti-Semitism, hatred of Muslims, of foreigners, homophobia are increasing in an intolerable manner," French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said last April when the French government decided to take urgent steps aimed at eradicating “intolerable” racism in society, The Local reported.