An important point to note is that most of those who oppose minarets, oppose mosques as well.
It seems that it's not the minarets that people are really objecting to, but the mosques themselves.
Most of those who think they can decide what a house of prayer should look like also think they can can decide whether it should be built at all.
If the Swiss would have had a referendum on banning mosques, would they have gotten the same result?
Meanwhile, a survey in London shows that 75% want a ban on minarets. (h/t EuropeNews) and a poll in Sweden shows that about 25% want to ban minarets, 44% want to allow them and 30% are undecided.
A BVA poll for Canal+ shows that 54% think that a referendum on banning minarets would be a bad thing. 61% of right-wingers support the idea, compared with 31% among left-wingers.
If such a referendum was held, 55% of respondents would vote against the ban. Among the 45% who would vote for the ban, 51% are right-wingers, 32% are left-wingers.
Among the respondents who said a referendum would be a good thing, 82% would vote to ban minarets. Asked whether Islam is more worrying than other religions, less worrying or just the same, 44% answered it was 'more worrying', 1% 'less worrying', and 55% that it's not more nor less worrying than other religions.
Among those who think Islam is more disturbing, 62% were right-wingers and 32% left-wingers. The pollsters note that putting these themes forward tend to crystallize the opinions of those who have a rather hostile attitude towards Islam.
According to an Ifop poll, 41% of respondents oppose building places of Muslim worship, compared to 22% in 2001.
If the Swiss weren't preoccupied with minarets, France would probably have ignored it. But once the subject was brought up, opinions have gotten inflamed.
About 46% of the French asked by Ifop favor their ban. Close to 40% accept them and 14% have no opinion. Jérôme Fourquet of Ifop says that the French are divided, but that there's never been as much tensions around Islam as now.
It's not only minarets that they're upset about. Just 19% of the French accept that a mosque should be built if the Muslims request it. It's the lowest ratio in the past twenty years. While the number of opponents has returned to the level of the 1980s. 41% oppose building mosques, 36% said they were indifferent and 4% have no opinion.
Jerome Fourquet says that at the time, the Front National emerged as well as SOS-Racisme and the big protests. In 1989, 38% of the French didn't want to see a mosque built next to them. In the following decades the rejection weakened. In 2001, even after the 9/11 attacks, the core of opposition remained at 22%, others having joined the camp of the indifferent (46%).
Jérôme Fourquet says that in 2009, with the return of tensions, public opinion radicalized on the place of Islam in France, and is strongly against its visibility. About 41% of the respondents now reject construction of mosques.
Ifop says that it's as if the twenty years of the right to be different and positive secularism advocated by Nicolas Sarkozy have only been talk on the surface, without getting a toehold in the country.
The president even thought to alter the 1905 law to permit public financing of the Muslim religion, while mayors were asked to get involved to order to get Islam to leave squalid places of worship.
However, this 'normalization' of Islam wished for by the government and the political elites turned against the tide of public opinion. The gap is particularly noticeable among the voters of Nicolas Sarkozy. 48% of them reject building mosques (13% support), and 55% are against minarets. 48% of Olivier Besancenot voters object to minarets.
Compared to only 25% who oppose building mosques (28% support) and 34% who oppose minarets among voters of Ségolène Royal. 33% of François Bayrou voters want to ban minarets. 87% of Jean-Marie Le Pen voters oppose building mosques (3% support) and 79% oppose minarets.
Besides the liberal professions, the younger people and more elderly, everybody shows reluctance. The workers are most mobilized. 65% disagree with building mosques, followed by middle managements, craftsmen and merchants. Whether they live in the cities or in the countryside, the French are concerned. And particularly in the North-Est and the South-East. Ile-de-France is less tense.
On the Le Figaro internet site, 49,000 readers answered the question "should the construction of new minarets be banned in France?" with a majority of 73% favoring such a ban. In Germany, Der Spiegel got 78% opposition in answer to a similar question. Though immigration is more accepted in France than in other European countries, Ifop says that according to recent surveys, Islam is worrying.
It's still perceived as a religion of conquest. "Its expansion and collective rites clash with the Catholic background of our society." The minarets, even without a muezzin, seems to be a "too loud" symbol of the Muslim presence in France.
Sources: Le Figaro , Le Monde (French), h/t Bivouac-ID