Xenophobia and hostility against Muslims have been on the rise in eastern Germany, the Leipzig University warned in a recent study.
Some 46.6% of people in eastern Germany demanded a ban on Muslim immigrants, up from 40.2% polled in 2020, according to a representative survey published on Wednesday.
Also, 42.7% of respondents said they felt like foreigners in their own country because of the large number of Muslims.
Researchers pointed out that anti-Muslim attitudes were higher in the ex-communist eastern German states where significantly fewer Muslims are living and where people have less contact with Muslims.
In western Germany, 23.6% said they advocate for a ban on immigration from Muslim countries, and 36.6% said they felt like foreigners in their own country due to the high number of immigrants.
The Leipzig Authoritarianism Study 2022 has also revealed that xenophobia was on the rise in the eastern German states.
Some 33.1% of the respondents agreed with certain xenophobic statements, with a majority of them saying “Germany is dangerously swamped by foreigners” and that they should be sent to their home countries if there is a shortage of jobs in Germany.
A country of over 84 million people, Germany has the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France. It is home to around 4.7 million Muslims, according to the official figures.
The country has witnessed growing racism and Islamophobia in recent years, fueled by the propaganda of far-right groups and parties, which have exploited the refugee crisis and attempted to stoke fear of immigrants.
German authorities registered at least 662 Islamophobic hate crimes in 2021. More than 46 mosques were attacked between January and December last year and at least 17 people suffered injuries due to anti-Muslim violence.