Almost half of refugees think religious law is more important than the law of the country in which they live, a study found.


The study had been commissioned by Austria's ministry of Integration, and carried out by the Austrian Academy of Sciences.


The study in Austria found that 40 percent of migrants thought religion always took precedence over secular laws. A similar percentage were found to think that Western people are too liberal in their lifestyles and have too much freedom.


One in five even said women should not be allowed to work.


Four out of five refugees said they agree with the equality of men and women, but they wanted to see Muslim women covering up in Austria. Some 37 percent said they wanted separated gymnastics and swimming lessons for boys and girls in schools.


A total of 61 percent of the refugees claimed to be religious, with about 30 percent praying five times or more a day. While 83 percent said they happily coexist with other religions, 45 percent said that other religions are not equal to Islam.


According to the study, refugees accept the freedoms of the Austrian legal state as an abstract principle, but reject it for themselves.


Questioners interviewed 900 Syrian, Afghan, and Iraqi refugees in Austria to find the shocking results.


Sebastian Kurz, Austria's 30-year-old Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration, commented on the survey results just after he visited an integration course for refugees.


He said: "Refugees have not yet internalised many values."


The conservative minister spoke of a "major challenge" in the integration process.


He highlighted the importance of such measures as the integration course he had just visited, saying it was important to show basic values and to "clearly define borders".


He said: "If there are violations against our laws or against our basic values, we do not react with exaggerated tolerance, but show that the regulations in Austria must be strictly adhered to."


Kurz said that many new proposals would "hopefully soon be decided in integration laws". This includes among other measures, a compulsory non-profit employment for refugees (1-euro-per-hour-jobs), a ban on full-face veils such as the burka and a ban on Quran distribution projects by Salafists.


But he admitted that some of his proposed ideas still have to be agreed to by his Social-Democratic coalition partners, who still object to a burka ban and compulsory low-wage employment.

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Author: Koen Berghuis

Koen Berghuis is ViralTab's roving correspondent and editor of the Benelux & German desk.