As in the rest of the world, Islam is in the midst of a rapid growth in Europe. This development has been attracting more attention in recent years, as evidenced by the many theses, reports, and articles published on "the place of Muslims in Europe" and "dialogue between European society and Muslims." Along with these academic reports, the media has carried frequent reports about Islam and Muslims. The root of this interest lies in the continual growth of Muslim population figures in Europe, and that this increase cannot be ascribed solely to immigration. While immigration certainly has had a significant effect on the Muslim population's growth, so many researchers have addressed this matter for quite another reason: high conversion rates.
The Roman Catholic Church, headquartered in Vatican City, is one of the institutions that follows conversion trends. One of the main topics during the October 1999 meeting of the European synod, which was attended by almost all of the Catholic clergy, was the Church's position in the new millennium. The conference's main theme was the rapid growth of Islam in Europe. The National Catholic Reporter reported that some radical individuals stated that the only way to prevent Muslims' gaining power in Europe was to stop tolerating Muslims and Islam; other more objective and rational individuals underscored the fact that since the two religions believe in one God, there should be no room for any conflict or struggle between them. In one session, Archbishop Karl Lehmann of Germany stressed that there is more internal pluralism within Islam than many Christians perceive, and that the radicals' claims about Islam had no basis in truth.
Considering the position of Muslims when elucidating the Church's position in the new millennium was quite proper, for a 1999 United Nations' survey showed that between 1989 and 1998, Europe's Muslim population grew by more than 100 percent.Today, about 13 million Muslims live in Western Europe: 3.9 million in Germany, 3.3 million in Britain, 7.5 million in France, and the rest in other countries.
Relevant research also has revealed that while the number of Muslims in Europe continues to grow, there is a deepening of religious awareness among Muslims. According to a survey conducted by the French newspaper Le Monde in October 2001, compared to data collected in 1994, many Muslims continue to perform their prayers, go to the mosque, and fast. This awareness is seen much more among university students.
In an Aktuel magazine article, which was based on reports in the foreign press, Western researchers said that Europe would become one of the most important centers for the dissemination of Islam about 50 years later.
Along with this sociological and demographic research, we also must not forget that Europe has not become acquainted with Islam only recently, but that Islam is actually an inseparable part of Europe.
|(Above) The Economist commented on the state of Muslims living in Europe after 9/11, and reported on the current and historical relations between Europe and Islam.(Middle) This is London magazine reported on the Muslim converts living in England in its article "The New Face of Islam." Some interesting information about the increasing number of Muslims is that great majority of converts are women. (Below) In a New York Times article entitled "Islam is Part of the West, Too," Wolfgang Petritsch, High Representative of the Bosnia-Herzegovina International Community, said it is not possible to separate Islam and the West from each other. According to him, Bosnia-Herzegovina is one of the best examples of the blending of Western and Islamic cultures.|
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About 12 million Muslims live in Europe, which makes Islam its second largest religion. One of the clearest indications of Islam's rising influence there is the Muslim community's
Muslims in England
(Above) Islam is the number one religion in Europe, (Middle) Islam on Arte TV, (Below) Curiosity about Islam in Europe after 9/ 11.More Europeans are converting to Islam than ever before, and many documentaries about Islam have been shown on European television since 9/11.
|The awakening of Islam in Europe, Islam, a sun that has shone for 1,000 years.This article in Newsweek examines Islam in Europe and reports that Islam is constantly gaining influence in such countries as Italy, England, and France. For example, in East London, where chapels go empty, mosques open to take their place. In France, many buildings have been converted into mosques and are filled to overflowing by devout Muslims. Minarets rise in Madrid, and a grand mosque is being built in Italy|
Islam in France
Preparations Have Begun To Make Islam An Official Religion in Sweden
Today, approximately 5% of the French population is Muslim. Islam, now France's second largest religion, is attracting the attention of the French media.
|(Above) Islam is an official religion in Swedenen, (Middle) The ambassador of Sweden to Istanbul: Islam is a European religion, (Below) Time magazine reported on the opening of Sweden's largest mosque in Stockholm. Research shows that there are more than 300,000 Muslims in Sweden, whose total population is about 10 million, and the government and people are very accepting of them. Last year, the government made a special allocation of funds to translate the Qur'an into Swedish for them and to build a big mosque where they can worship comfortably. Along with these projects, another fund has been established to support schools that provide Islamic education. In addition, there is now an initiative to make Islam an officially recognized religion.|
The Growth Of Islam in Belgium
(Left) Belgium's largest mosque opens, (Right) In Belgium the number of Muslims has reached 450,000.
At the beginning of the 1990s, Belgium had about 285,000 Muslims; by 1998, there were 350,000 Muslims. This is 2.5% of the Belgian population. There are now 240 places of Islamic worship in Belgium, and Islam continues to grow rapidly.1 Today, Belgium has more Muslims than Protestants and Jews, and is the second largest religious community after Catholicism. The Belgian government has always been well-disposed toward Belgian Muslims and, as early as 1974, passed a law to protect their freedom of belief and worship. According to this law, Muslims are as free as Catholics, Protestants, and Jews to practice and teach their religion. One of its most important provisions deals with teaching Islam in state schools. At present, Belgium has about 700 Muslim teachers in state schools. They receive salaries and expenses from the government. The Belgian government also covers the cost of building worship centers and hiring clergy. This support allows Islam to spread, and is indicated by the opening of the Genk Yunus Emre Mosque on January 28, 2002. Mayor Jef Gabriels, who attended the opening, considered this day a holiday, and the vicar Jan Boonen expressed his thoughts as follows: "There's a house, people live in it; there's a house, a hospital is being built; there's a house, a bank is being built. But this house is a different house. This is God's house, and we come here only to bow down to him."21. Prof. Herman De Ley, "Muslims in Belgium: Enemies from within or fellow Citizens," http://isim.leidenuniv.nl/newsletter/1/forum/01AE35.html 2. Zaman, Metin Keskin, January 28, 2001
An Italian Ambassador Becomes A Muslim
The Rise of Islam is the Cover Story in der Spiegel
The Western press and news agencies were attracted by Torquato Cardilli's, Italian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, conversion to Islam. Above we see a Reuters' report entitled "Rome's Envoy to Saudi Arabia Converts to Islam." Actually, Torquoato Cardilli was the second ambassador who converted to Islam. Before him, Ambassador Mario Scialoja also had converted to Islam. Having converted when he was Rome's permanent ambassador to the United Nations, Scialoja was later appointed ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Cardilli had spent many years in Muslim countries, and his conversion shows once again the rapid growth of Islam in Italy. About 1 million Muslims live in Italy and in the last two or three years about 5,000 people have converted.11. Reuters, November 26, 2001
|(Above) The Prophet Muhammad on the cover of Der Spiegel; Islam's rapid rise throughout the world was the cover story of the well-known German magazine, Der Spiegel. This issue contained a 20-page report entitled "Who was the Prophet Mohammed?" and pointed out that true Islam had nothing to do with terrorism. It also presented the views of various historians, philosophers, sociologists, and politicians. The report states that no religion is spreading as fast as Islam, and quotes the words of prominent English philosopher Ernest Gellner: "Islam is the blueprint of a social order. It holds that a set of rules exists, eternal, divinely ordained, and independent of the will of men, which defines the proper ordering of society."|
Television Documentaries Present Islam
The German President Visits A Mosque
(Above) Islam on English television, (Below) Much interest in the documentary about Prophet Muhammad (saas), Islam's rapid rise has been the topic of many television programs. In addition to concentrating on political and social issues, they also provide comprehensive documentaries on Islamic history and moral teachings. One example is the English project called the "The BBC Two's Islam Season," which was prepared as a 2-week series. Costing 1 million pounds to produce, it was to present the truth about Islam. A similar program was broadcast on the French-German channel: Arte. This documentary series, which took 3 years to produce, presents a detailed account of the Prophet's life and Islamic history.
|(Left) The German president in a mosque, (Right) German president Rau: West Islam dialogue is necessary;German president Johannes Rau, an avid supporter of interfaith dialogue, expressed himself on this matter at a meeting of the World Council of Churches in Potsdam on January 29-30, 2001. The Council declared the next 10 years to be the "Decade to Overcome Violence." Rau stated that this was one of Europe's most important social initiatives. He stated further that freedom and justice were equally important, and that Social Darwinism had to be definitely rejected.1 Moreover, Rau showed the importance he placed on establishing dialogue by his visit to the Fatih Mosque in Marl. During this visit, arranged for the Ramadan Eid, he stated that Muslim holidays were as important as Christian ones, and that the struggle against terror was not related to Islam. 1. Notes on Church-State Affairs, vol, 43, Autumn 2001, no.2|
(Above) Islam, a part of life in Germany, (Middle) Europe seeks for true Islam, (Below) German Muslims. The number of German converts is also high. Germany, which has a dense Muslim population, has undertaken various initiatives to provide a better understanding and correct presentation of Islam. Among these efforts are the lessons in Islam, which will be given in German schools.
|Above we see Europe's largest mosque: the mosque in Rome|
Islam in Denmark
Islam in the Educational System in Europe
Islam is the fastest growing religion in Denmark. This growth is fostered by the warm relations with the Danish government. One of the most striking instances of this support was an historical first: Danish state television broadcast a Friday sermon delivered in the mosque of the Turkish Cultural Center.
|(Below) Islamic lesson in German; In Sweden guides to Islam will be distribnuted free to students, Above: A New York Times' article entitled "Austrian School Drama: Crucifix Meets Ramadan," reports on the Muslims' education rights in Austrian schools. In Europe's many Islamic schools, the state curriculum includes courses introducing Islam. Certainly, this initiative will be the most effective way to combat radicalism and the foundation stone in any dialogue established between the two cultures.|
"It is He who sent His Messenger with the Guidance and the True Religion to exalt it over every otherreligion and God suffices as a witness."