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Islam in Europe

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Islam is the second-largest religion in Europe after Christianity.[1] Although the majority of Muslim communities in Europe formed recently, there are centuries-old Muslim societies in the Balkans and in the Caucasus.

Islam entered southern Europe through the expansion of "Moors" of North Africa in the 8th–10th centuries; Muslim political entities existed firmly in what is today Spain, Portugal, Sicily and Malta for several centuries. The Muslim community in these territories was converted or expelled by the end of the 15th century by Christian polities (see Reconquista). Islam expanded into the Caucasus through the Muslim conquest of Persia in the 7th century. The Ottoman Empire expanded into southeastern Europe, invading and conquering huge portions of the Serbian Empire, Bulgarian Empire, and all the remaining Byzantine Empire in the 14th and 15th centuries. Over the centuries, the Ottoman Empire also gradually lost almost all of its European territories, until the empire collapsed in 1922. Some Balkan countries continue to have large populations of native Muslims, though the majority are secular.

The term "Muslim Europe" is used for the Muslim-majority countries of Albania, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Transcontinental countries, such as Turkey, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have large Muslim populations, as does Russia in the North Caucasus, Tatarstan and nearby regions.

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, large numbers of Muslims immigrated to Western Europe. By 2010, an estimated 44 million Muslims were living in Europe (6%), including an estimated 19 million in the EU (3.8%).[2] They are projected to comprise 8% by 2030.[3] They are often the subject of intense discussion and political controversy created by events such as terrorist attacks, the cartoons affair in Denmark, debates over Islamic dress, and ongoing support for right-wing populist parties that view Muslims as a threat to European culture. Such events have also fueled growing debate regarding the topic of Islamophobia, attitudes toward Muslims, and the populist right.[4]


The Muslim population in Europe is extremely diverse with varied histories and origins. Today, the Muslim-majority regions of Europe are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, parts of North Macedonia and Montenegro, as well as some Russian regions in Northern Caucasus and the Volga region. The communities consist predominantly of indigenous Europeans of the Muslim faith whose religious tradition dates back several hundred years. The transcontinental countries of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan are also majority Muslim.

Moors, Al-Andalus, Sicily and Crete

The Moors request permission from James I of Aragon, Spain, 13th century
The Moors request permission from James I of Aragon, Spain, 13th century

Muslim forays into Europe began shortly after the religion's inception, with a short-lived invasion of Byzantine Sicily by a small Arab and Berber force that landed in 652.

Muslims established various emirates in Europe after the conquering of Al-Andalus. One notable emirate was Emirate of Crete, the state existed on the Mediterranean island of Crete from the late 820s to the Byzantine reconquest of the island in 961. The other was Emirate of Sicily, an emirate on Sicily which existed from 831 to 1091.

Islam gained its first genuine foothold in continental Europe from 711 onward, with the Umayyad conquest of Hispania. The Arabs renamed the land Al-Andalus, which expanded to include the larger parts of what is now Portugal and Spain, excluding the northern highlands. Scholars suggest that Al-Andalus had a Muslim majority by the 10th century after most of the local population willingly converted to Islam.[5] This coincided with the La Convivencia period of the Iberian Peninsula as well as the Golden age of Jewish culture in Spain. The Christian counter-offensive known as the Reconquista began in the early 8th century, when Muslim forces managed to temporarily push into southern France. Slowly, the Christian forces began a re-conquest of the fractured Taifa kingdoms of Al-Andalus. There was still a Muslim presence north of Spain, especially in Fraxinet all the way into Switzerland until the 10th century.[6] Muslim forces under the Aghlabids conquered Sicily after a series of expeditions spanning 827–902, and had notably raided Rome in 846. The Emirate of Sicily was established in 965. Arabs held onto southern Italy until their expulsion by the Normans in 1072. By 1236, practically all that remained of Muslim Spain was the southern province of Granada.

The Arabs imposed Sharia, thus, the Latin- and Greek-speaking Christian communities, as well as a community of Jews, had limited freedom of religion under the Muslims as dhimmi (protected non-Muslims). They were required to pay jizya (poll tax levied on able bodied men only), but exempt from the Muslim tax of zakat. These taxes marked their status as subject to Muslim rule, albeit in exchange for protection against foreign and internal aggression.

Cultural impact and interaction

"Araz" coat of arms of Polish Tatar nobility. Tatar coats of arms often included motifs related to Islam.
"Araz" coat of arms of Polish Tatar nobility. Tatar coats of arms often included motifs related to Islam.

Arabic-speaking Christian scholars saved influential pre-Christian texts and introduced aspects of medieval Islamic culture[7][8][9] (including the arts,[10][11][12] economics,[13] science and technology).[14][15] (See Latin translations of the 12th century and Islamic contributions to Medieval Europe for more information).

Muslim rule endured in the Emirate of Granada, from 1238 as a vassal state of the Christian Kingdom of Castile, until the completion of La Reconquista in 1492.[16] The Moriscos (Moorish in Spanish) were finally expelled from Spain between 1609 (Castile) and 1614 (rest of Spain), by Philip III during the Spanish Inquisition.

Throughout the 16th to 19th centuries, the Barbary States sent pirates to raid nearby parts of Europe in order to capture Christian slaves to sell at slave markets in the Arab World throughout the Renaissance period.[17][18] According to Robert Davis, from the 16th to 19th centuries, pirates captured 1 million to 1.25 million Europeans as slaves. These slaves were captured mainly from the crews of captured vessels[19] and from coastal villages in Spain and Portugal, and from farther places like Italy, France or England, the Netherlands, Ireland, the Azores Islands, and even Iceland.[17]

For a long time, until the early 18th century, the Crimean Khanate maintained a massive slave trade with the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East.[20] The Crimean Tatars frequently mounted raids into the Danubian principalities, Poland-Lithuania, and Russia to enslave people whom they could capture.[21]

The Great Mosque of Paris, built after World War I.
The Great Mosque of Paris, built after World War I.

Eastern Europe


The Böszörmény Muslims formed an early community of Muslims in Hungary. Their biggest settlement was near the town of present-day Orosháza in the central part of the Hungarian Kingdom. At that time this settlement entirely populated by Muslims was probably one of the biggest settlements of the Kingdom. This and several other Muslim settlements were all destroyed and their inhabitants massacred during the 1241 Mongol invasion of Hungary.

Russia and Ukraine

Log pod Mangartom Mosque, the only mosque ever built in Slovenia - constructed in the town of Log pod Mangartom during World War I
Log pod Mangartom Mosque, the only mosque ever built in Slovenia - constructed in the town of Log pod Mangartom during World War I

In the mid-7th century AD, following the Muslim conquest of Persia, Islam spread into areas that would later become part of Russia.[22] There are accounts of the trade connections between Muslims and the Rus', apparently people from the Baltic region who made their way towards the Black Sea through Central Russia. During his journey to Volga Bulgaria in 921–922, Ibn Fadlan observed the Rus', claiming that some had converted to Islam. "They are very fond of pork and many of them who have assumed the path of Islam miss it very much." The Rus' also relished their nabidh, a fermented drink which Ibn Fadlan often mentioned as part of their daily fare.[23]

The Ottoman campaign for territorial expansion in Europe in 1566, Crimean Tatars as vanguard.
The Ottoman campaign for territorial expansion in Europe in 1566, Crimean Tatars as vanguard.

The Mongols began their conquest of Rus', of Volga Bulgaria, and of the Cuman-Kipchak Confederation (parts of present-day Russia and Ukraine) in the 13th century. After the Mongol empire split, the eastern European section became known as the Golden Horde. Although not originally Muslim, the western Mongols adopted Islam as their religion in the early-14th century under Berke Khan, and later Uzbeg Khan established it as the official religion of the state. Much of the mostly Turkic-speaking population of the Horde, as well as the small Mongol aristocracy, became Islamized (if they were not already Muslim, like the Volga Bulgars) and became known to Russians and Europeans as the Tatars. More than half[24] of the European portion of what is now Russia and Ukraine came under the suzerainty of Muslim Tatars and Turks from the 13th to the 15th centuries. The Crimean Khanate became a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire in 1475 and subjugated what remained of the Great Horde by 1502. The Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible conquered the Muslim Khanate of Kazan in 1552.

Belarus and Poland-Lithuania

Lipka Tatar Muslims of Belarus and Poland-Lithuania.[25][26][27][28][29] The material of their Mosques is wood.[30]



As a result of Babai revolt, in 1261, one of the Turkoman dervish Sari Saltuk was forced to take refuge in the Byzantine Empire, alongside 40 Turkoman clans. He was settled in Dobruja, whence he entrered the service of the powerful Muslim Mongol emir, Nogai Khan. Sari Saltuk became the hero of an epic, as a dervish and ghazi spreading Islam into Europe.[31]

The Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, awaits the arrival of his Greek Muslim Grand Vizier Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha at Buda, in the year 1529.
The Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, awaits the arrival of his Greek Muslim Grand Vizier Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha at Buda, in the year 1529.
Medieval Bulgaria particularly the city of Sofia, was the administrative centre of almost all Ottoman possessions in the Balkans also known as Rumelia.[32]
Medieval Bulgaria particularly the city of Sofia, was the administrative centre of almost all Ottoman possessions in the Balkans also known as Rumelia.[32]

The Ottoman Empire began its expansion into Europe by taking the European portions of the Byzantine Empire in the 14th and 15th centuries up until the 1453 capture of Constantinople, establishing Islam as the state religion in the region. The Ottoman Empire continued to stretch northwards, taking Hungary in the 16th century, and reaching as far north as the Podolia in the mid-17th century (Peace of Buczacz), by which time most of the Balkans was under Ottoman control. Ottoman expansion in Europe ended with their defeat in the Great Turkish War. In the Treaty of Karlowitz (1699), the Ottoman Empire lost most of its conquests in Central Europe. The Crimean Khanate was later annexed by Russia in 1783.[33] Over the centuries, the Ottoman Empire gradually lost almost all of its European territories, until its collapse in 1922, when the former empire was transformed into the nation of Turkey.[citation needed]

Between 1354 (when the Ottomans crossed into Europe at Gallipoli) and 1526, the Empire had conquered the territory of present-day Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia, and Hungary. The Empire laid siege to Vienna in 1683. The intervention of the Polish King broke the siege, and from then afterwards the Ottomans battled the Habsburg Emperors until 1699, when the Treaty of Karlowitz forced them to surrender Hungary and portions of present-day Croatia, Slovenia, and Serbia. From 1699 to 1913, wars and insurrections pushed the Ottoman Empire further back until it reached the current European border of present-day Turkey.[citation needed]

For most of this period, the Ottoman retreats were accompanied by Muslim refugees from these provinces (in almost all cases converts from the previous subject populations), leaving few Muslim inhabitants in Hungary, Croatia, and the Transylvania region of present-day Romania. Bulgaria remained under Ottoman rule until around 1878, and currently its population includes about 131,000 Muslims (2001 Census) (see Pomaks).

Painting of the bazaar at Athens, Ottoman Greece, early 19th century
Painting of the bazaar at Athens, Ottoman Greece, early 19th century

Bosnia was conquered by the Ottomans in 1463, and a large portion of the population converted to Islam in the first 200 years of Ottoman domination. By the time Austria-Hungary occupied Bosnia in 1878, the Habsburgs had shed the desire to re-Christianize new provinces. As a result, a sizable Muslim population in Bosnia survived into the 20th century. Albania and the Kosovo area remained under Ottoman rule until 1913. Prior to the Ottoman conquest, the northern Albanians were Roman Catholic and the southern Albanians were Christian Orthodox, but by 1913 the majority were Muslim.[citation needed]

Conversion to Islam

Registration of Christian boys for the tribute in blood. Ottoman miniature painting, 1558.[34]
Registration of Christian boys for the tribute in blood. Ottoman miniature painting, 1558.[34]

Apart from the effect of a lengthy period under Ottoman domination, many of the subject population were forcefully converted to Islam as a result of a deliberate move by the Ottomans as part of a policy of ensuring the loyalty of the population against a potential Venetian invasion. However, Islam was spread by force in the areas under the control of the Ottoman Sultan through devşirme and jizya.[35][36] Rather Arnold explains Islam's spread by quoting 17th-century author Johannes Scheffler who stated:

Meanwhile he (i.e. the Turk) wins (converts) by craft more than by force, and snatches away Christ by fraud out of the hearts of men. For the Turk, it is true, at the present time compels no country by violence to apostatise; but he uses other means whereby imperceptibly he roots out Christianity... What then has become of the Christians? They are not expelled from the country, neither are they forced to embrace the Turkish faith: then they must of themselves have been converted into Turks.[37]

Cultural influences

Islam piqued interest among European scholars, setting off the movement of Orientalism. The founder of modern Islamic studies in Europe was Ignác Goldziher, who began studying Islam in the late 19th century. For instance, Sir Richard Francis Burton, 19th-century English explorer, scholar, and orientalist, and translator of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, disguised himself as a Pashtun and visited both Medina and Mecca during the Hajj, as described in his book A Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Medinah and Meccah.

Islamic architecture influenced European architecture in various ways (for example, the Türkischer Tempel synagogue in Vienna). During the 12th-century Renaissance in Europe, Latin translations of Arabic texts were introduced.

Twentieth century

Muslim emigration to metropolitan France surged during the Algerian War of Independence.[citation needed] In 1961, the West German Government invited first Gastarbeiters and similar contracts were offered by Switzerland; some of these migrant workers came from majority-Muslim countries such as Turkey.[citation needed] Migrants came to Britain from its majority-Muslim former colonies Pakistan and Bangladesh.[citation needed]

Current demographics

Muslim-majority areas in Europe
Muslim-majority areas in Europe

The exact number of Muslims in Europe is unknown. According to estimates by the Pew Forum, the total number of Muslims in Europe (excluding Turkey) in 2010 was about 44 million (6% of the total population), including 19 million (3.8% of the population) in the European Union.[2] A 2010 Pew Research Center study reported that 2.7% of the world's Muslim population live in Europe.[38]

As of 2011, Approximately 9 million Turks were living in Europe outside of Turkey. This made Turks the largest immigrant Muslim population in Europe.[39] Estimates of the percentage of Muslims in Russia (the biggest group of Muslims in Europe) vary from 5[40] to 11.7%,[2] depending on sources. It also depends on if only observant Muslims or all people of Muslim descent are counted.[41]

58.8% of Albania adheres to Islam, making it the largest religion in the country. The majority of Albanian Muslims are Secular Sunni with a significant Bektashi Shia minority.[42] The percentage is 93.5% in Kosovo,[43] 39.3% in North Macedonia[44][45] (according to the 2002 Census, 46.5% of the children aged 0–4 were Muslim in Macedonia)[46] and 50.7% in Bosnia and Herzegovina.[47] In transcontinental countries such as Turkey 99%, and 93% in Azerbaijan[48] of the population is Muslim respectively. According to the 2011 census, 20% of the total population in Montenegro are Muslims.[49] In Russia, Moscow is home to an estimated 1.5 million Muslims.[50][51][52]

Darren E. Sherkat questioned in Foreign Affairs whether some of the Muslim growth projections are accurate as they do not take into account the increasing number of non-religious Muslims. Quantitative research is lacking, but he believes the European trend mirrors the American: data from the General Social Survey in the United States show that 22 percent of those raised Muslim no longer embrace Islam in adulthood, and 18 percent hold no religious identification.[53]

Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

A survey conducted by Pew Research Center in 2016 found that Muslims make up 4.9% of all Europe's population.[54] According to a same study conversion does not add significantly to the growth of the Muslim population in Europe, with roughly 160,000 more people leaving Islam than converting into Islam between 2010 and 2016.[54]

Country Estimated % of Muslims among total population in 2016[54]
Cyprus 25.4
Bulgaria 11.1
France 8.8
Sweden 8.1
Belgium 7.6
Netherlands 7.1
Austria 6.9
United Kingdom 6.3
Germany 6.1
Switzerland 6.1
Norway 5.7
Greece 5.7
Denmark 5.4
Italy 4.8
Slovenia 3.8
Luxembourg 3.2
Finland 2.7
Spain 2.6
Croatia 1.6
Ireland 1.4


According to the Pew Research Center, Europe's population was 6% Muslim in 2010, and is projected to be 8% Muslim by 2030.[2] (The data does not take into account population movements from the Middle East and Africa since the migration crisis.)
According to the Pew Research Center, Europe's population was 6% Muslim in 2010, and is projected to be 8% Muslim by 2030.[2] (The data does not take into account population movements from the Middle East and Africa since the migration crisis.)

A Pew Research Center study, published in January 2011, forecast an increase of Muslims in European population from 6% in 2010 to 8% in 2030.[2] The study also predicted that Muslim fertility rate in Europe would drop from 2.2 in 2010 to 2.0 in 2030. On the other hand, the non-Muslim fertility rate in Europe would increase from 1.5 in 2010 to 1.6 in 2030.[2] Another Pew study published in 2017 projected that in 2050 Muslims will make 7.4% (if all migration into Europe were to immediately and permanently stop - a "zero migration" scenario) up to 14% (under a "high" migration scenario) of Europe's population.[55] Data from the 2000s for the rates of growth of Islam in Europe showed that the growing number of Muslims was due primarily to immigration and higher birth rates.[56]

In 2017, Pew projected that the Muslim population of Europe would reach a level between 7% and 14% by 2050. The projections depend on the level of migration. With no net migration, the projected level was 7%; with high migration, it was 14%. The projections varied greatly by country. Under the high migration scenario, the highest projected level of any historically non-Muslim country was 30% in Sweden. By contrast, Poland was projected to remain below 1%.[57]

In 2006, the conservative Christian historian Philip Jenkins, in an article for the Foreign Policy Research Institute thinktank, wrote that by 2100, a Muslim population of about 25% of Europe's population was "probable"; Jenkins stated this figure did not take account growing birthrates amongst Europe's immigrant Christians, but did not give details of his metholodogy.[58] in 2010, Eric Kaufmann, professor of politics at Birkbeck, University of London said that "In our projections for Western Europe by 2050 we are looking at a range of 10-15 per cent Muslim population for most of the high immigration countries – Germany, France, the UK";[59] he argued that Islam was expanding, not because of conversion to Islam, but primarily due to the religion's "pro-natal" orientation, where Muslims tend to have more children.[60] Other analysts are skeptical about the accuracy of the claimed Muslim population growth, stating that because many European countries do not ask a person's religion on official forms or in censuses, it has been difficult to obtain accurate estimates, and arguing that there has been a decrease in Muslim fertility rates in Morocco, the Netherlands and Turkey.[61]

Country Muslims (official) Muslims (estimation) % of total population % of World Muslim population Community origin
Albania Albania 1,646,128 2,601,000 (Pew 2011) 58.79 (official);[62] 82.1 (Pew 2011) 0.1 Indigenous (Albanians)
Andorra Andorra N/A < 1,000 (Pew 2011) < 0.1 < 0.1 Immigrant
Austria Austria N/A 700,000 (2017 study)[63] 8[63] < 0.1 Immigrant
Belarus Belarus N/A 19,000 (Pew 2011) 0.2 < 0.1 Immigrant and Indigenous (Lipka Tatars)
Belgium Belgium N/A 781,887 (2015 est.)[64] 5.9[65]–7[64] < 0.1 Immigrant
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia-Herzegovina 1,790,454 (2016 census) 1,564,000 (Pew 2011) 50.7 (official);[66] 41.6 (Pew 2011) 0.1 Indigenous (Bosniaks)
Bulgaria Bulgaria 577,000 (2011 census)[67] 1,002,000 (Pew 2011) 7.8 (official); 13.4 (Pew 2011) < 0.1 Indigenous (Pomaks, Turks)
Croatia Croatia N/A 56,000 (Pew 2011) 1.3 (Pew 2011) < 0.1 Immigrant and Indigenous (Bosniaks)
Cyprus Cyprus N/A 200,000 (Pew 2011) 22.7 (Pew 2011) < 0.1 Indigenous (Turks)
Czech Republic Czech Republic N/A 4,000 (Pew 2011) < 0.1 < 0.1 Immigrant
Denmark Denmark N/A 226,000 (Pew 2011) 4.1 (Pew 2011) < 0.1 Immigrant
Estonia Estonia 1,508 2,000 0.1 (Pew 2011) < 0.1 Immigrant
Faroe Islands Faroe Islands N/A < 1,000 (Pew 2011) < 0.1 < 0.1 Immigrant
Finland Finland N/A 65,000 (Pew 2016) 0.5 (Pew 2016) <0.1 Immigrant
France France N/A 4,704,000 (Pew 2011) 7.5 (Pew 2011) 0.3 Immigrant
Germany Germany N/A 4,119,000 (Pew 2011); 4,700,000 (CIA)[68] 5 (Pew 2011) 0.2 Immigrant
Greece Greece N/A 527,000 (Pew 2011) 4.7 (Pew 2011) <0.1 Indigenous (minority)
Hungary Hungary 5,579[69] 25,000 (Pew 2011) 0.3 (Pew 2011) <0.1 Immigrant
Iceland Iceland 770[70] < 1,000 (Pew 2011) 0.2[70] <0.1 Immigrant
Republic of Ireland Ireland 70,158 (2016 census) 43,000 (Pew 2011) 1.3[71] <0.1 Immigrant
Italy Italy N/A 1,583,000 (Pew 2011) 2.3;[72] 2.6 (Pew 2011) 0.1 Immigrant
Kosovo Kosovo N/A 1,584,000 (CIA);[73] 2,104,000 (Pew 2011) 95.6 0.1 Indigenous (Albanians)
Latvia Latvia N/A 2,000 (Pew 2011) 0.1 <0.1 Immigrant
Liechtenstein Liechtenstein N/A 2,000 (Pew 2011) 4.8 (Pew 2011) <0.1 Immigrant
Lithuania Lithuania N/A 3,000 (Pew 2011) 0.1 (Pew 2011) <0.1 Immigrant
Luxembourg Luxembourg N/A 11,000 (Pew 2011) 2.3 (Pew 2011) <0.1 Immigrant
Malta Malta N/A 1,000 (Pew 2011) 0.3 (Pew 2011) <0.1 Immigrant
Moldova Moldova N/A 15,000 (Pew 2011) 0.4 (Pew 2011) < 0.1 Immigrant
Monaco Monaco N/A < 1,000 (Pew 2011) 0.5 (Pew 2011) < 0.1 Immigrant
Montenegro Montenegro 118,477 (2011)[74] 116,000 (Pew 2011) 19.11[74] < 0.1 Indigenous (Bosniaks, Albanians, "Muslims")
Netherlands Netherlands N/A 914,000 (Pew 2011) 5[75] – 6[65] 0.1 Immigrant
North Macedonia North Macedonia N/A 713,000 (Pew 2011) 33 [76][77] <0.1 Indigenous (Albanians, Turks, Romani)
Norway Norway N/A 106,700–194,000 (Brunborg & Østby 2011);[78] 2–4[78] < 0.1 Immigrant
Poland Poland N/A 20,000 (Pew 2011) 0.1 (Pew 2011) < 0.1 Immigrant and Indigenous (Lipka Tatars)
Portugal Portugal N/A 65,000 (Pew 2011) 0.6 (Pew 2011) < 0.1 Immigrant
Romania Romania N/A 73,000 (Pew 2011) 0.3 (Pew 2011) < 0.1 Immigrant and indigenous (Turks and Tatars)
Russia Russia N/A 16,379,000 (Pew 2011) 11.7 (Pew 2011); 15 (CIA)[79] 1.0 Indigenous
San Marino San Marino N/A < 1,000 (Pew 2011) < 0.1 < 0.1 Immigrant
Serbia Serbia 228,828 (2011) 280,000 (Pew 2011) 3.1 (CIA);[80] 3.7 (Pew 2011) < 0.1 Indigenous (Bosniaks, "Muslims", Albanians)
Slovakia Slovakia 10,866 4,000 (Pew 2011) 0.1 (Pew 2011) < 0.1 Immigrant
Slovenia Slovenia 73,568 49,000 (Pew 2011) 2.4 (Pew 2011) < 0.1 Immigrant
Spain Spain 1,887,906 1,021,000 (Pew 2011) 4.1[81] 0.1 Immigrant
Sweden Sweden N/A 450,000–500,000 (2009 DRL);[82] 451,000 (Pew 2011) 5[82] < 0.1 Immigrant
Switzerland Switzerland N/A 433,000 5.7 (Pew 2011) < 0.1 Immigrant
Ukraine Ukraine N/A 393,000 (Pew 2011) 0.9 (Pew 2011) < 0.1 Indigenous (Crimean Tatars)[83]
United Kingdom United Kingdom 3,106,368 2,869,000 (Pew 2011) 4.6 (Pew 2011) 0.2 Immigrant
Vatican City

Vatican City

0 0

(pew 2011)

0 (pew 2011) 0 None


According to Deutsche Welle, immigrants from Muslim countries remain strongly religious in a trend which continues across generations. In the UK, 64% identify as "highly religious", 42% in Austria, 33% in France and 26% in Switzerland.[84]


Mosque of Rome, in Rome, the largest in the EU
Mosque of Rome, in Rome, the largest in the EU
The East London Mosque was one of the first in Britain to be allowed to use loudspeakers to broadcast the adhan.[85]
The East London Mosque was one of the first in Britain to be allowed to use loudspeakers to broadcast the adhan.[85]

Islamic organizations


Islamic dress

According to Pew Research Center in 2018, most Europeans favour restrictions on face-covering veils.[86] An estimated 13 out of 15 favoring a ban of face-covering veils in Western Europe. As opposed to politicians and intellectuals, people perceive Islamic dress to not represent religious symbols but a repressive ideology in the form of Islamism which intends to extend its influence into family, society and politics.[87]

Honor killings

According to a study investigating 67 honor killings in Europe 1989-2009 by Phyllis Chesler, 96% of honor murder perpetrators in Europe were Muslim and 68% of victims were tortured before they died.[88]

Muslim girls and women are murdered for honor in both the Western world and elsewhere for refusing to wearing the hijab or for not wearing it strictly. Allegations of unacceptable "Westernization" of a Muslim woman accounted for 71% of the justifications of honor killings in Europe.[88]



A 2013 study by Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB) found that Islamic fundamentalism was widespread among Muslims in Europe. The study conducted a poll among Turkish immgrants to six European countries: Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Sweden. In the first four countries also Moroccan immigrants were interviewed.[89] Fundamentalism was defined as: the belief that believers should return to the eternal and unchangeable rules laid down in the past; that these rules allow only one interpretation and are binding for all believers; and that religious rules have priority over secular laws. Two thirds of Muslims the majority responded that religious rules are more important than civil laws and three quarters rejecting religious pluralism within Islam.[90] Of the respondents, 44% agreed to all three statements. Almost 60% responded that Muslims should return to the roots of Islam, 75% thought there was only one possible interpretation of the Quran.[89]

The conclusion was that religious fundamentalism is much more prevalent among European Muslims than among Christian natives. Perceived discrimination is a marginal predictor of religious fundamentalism.[89] The perception that Western governments are inherently hostile towards Islam as a source of identity is prevailing among some European Muslims. However, a recent study shows that this perception significantly declined after the emergence of ISIS, particularly among the youth, and highly educated European Muslims.[91] The difference between countries defies a "reactive religious fundamentalism", where fundamentalism is viewed as a reaction against lacking rights and privileges for Muslims. Instead, it was found that Belgium which has comparatively generous policies towards Muslims and immigrants in general also had a relatively high level of fundamentalism. France and Germany which have restricitive policies had lower levels of fundamentalism.[89]

In 2017, the EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove stated in an interview that there were more than 50000 radicals and jihadists in Europe.[92] In 2016, French authorities stated that 15000 of the 20000 individuals on the list of security threats belong to Islamist movements.[93] In the United Kingdom, authorities estimate that 23000 jihadists reside in the country, of which about 3000 are actively monitored.[94] In 2017, German authorities estimated that there were more than 10000 militant salafists in the country.[95]

Attitudes towards Muslims

The extent of negative attitudes towards Muslims varies across different parts of Europe.

Unfavorable views of Muslims, 2019[96]
Country Percent
Czech Republic
United Kingdom

The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia reports that the Muslim population tends to suffer Islamophobia all over Europe, although the perceptions and views of Muslims may vary.[97]

In 2005 according to the Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau annual report, half the Dutch population and half the Moroccan and Turkish minorities stated that the Western lifestyle cannot be reconciled with that of Muslims.[98]

A 2015 poll by the Polish Centre for Public Opinion Research found that 44% of Poles have a negative attitude towards Muslims, with only 23% having a positive attitude towards them. Furthermore, a majority agreed with statements like "Muslims are intolerant of customs and values other than their own." (64% agreed, 12% disagreed), "Muslims living in Western European countries generally do not acquire customs and values that are characteristic for the majority of the population of that country." (63% agreed, 14% disagreed), "Islam encourages violence more than other religions." (51% agreed, 24% disagreed).[99]

A February 2017 poll of 10 000 people in 10 European countries by Chatham House found on average a majority were opposed to further Muslim immigration, with opposition especially pronounced in Austria, Poland, Hungary, France and Belgium. Of the respondents, 55% were opposed, 20% offered no opinion and 25% were in favour of further immigration from Muslim-majority countries. The authors of the study add that these countries, except Poland, had in the preceding years suffered jihadist terror attacks or been at the centre of a refugee crisis. They also mention that in most of the polled countries the radical right has political influence.[100]

According to a study in 2018 by Leipzig University, 56% of Germans sometimes thought the many Muslims made them feel like strangers in their own country, up from 43% in 2014. In 2018, 44% thought immigration by Muslims should be banned, up from 37% in 2014.[101]


According to a WZB report investigating Muslims in Germany, France, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Belgium and Switzerland, Muslims in Europe generally have higher levels of unemployment which is to a great part caused by the lack of language skills, the lack of inter-ethnic social ties and a traditional view of gender roles where women are not to work outside the home. Discrimination from employers caused a small part of the unemployment.[102]

See also


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Further reading

External links

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