Muslims in Europe

                       The Rise of Eurabia?

             A Challenge to European churches!



Today presence of Islam been felt so deeply in Western Europe. The rapid growth of Muslim communities has become the preeminent sociopolitical and religious issue confronting all of Europe. The Growth Muslim presence in Europe was minimal prior to 1945. The first wave of Muslims who came to Europe shortly after World War II either was those who emigrated from former European colonies because of decolonization or were “guest workers” recruited for industrial development in Europe. The first wave of Muslims coming to Europe breaks down roughly in 3 groups: (1) Muslims coming from the Indian subcontinent to the United Kingdom, (2) Muslims coming from North Africa to France, and (3) Muslims coming from Turkey to Germany. The second wave during the 1970s a          nd 1980s was comprised mostly of Muslim students who came to study at European universities. This wave also included families who were reunited with those who came during the first wave, and refugees from the Iran/Iraq War and the civil war raging in Lebanon. The third wave of Muslim immigrants to Europe occurred after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989—and was encouraged by new liberal immigration policies. The Muslim immigrants of this era were mostly refugees and asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Somalia. In addition, Europe’s economic and political stability attracted Muslim immigrants from the hinterlands of Eurasia and the continent of Africa. Growth of Islam in Western Europe The prevailing thought in most Western European countries was that the Muslim presence would be temporary. Western European leaders assumed that like the Southern European migrant workers who came and eventually returned to their homelands, the Muslim migrant workers in their countries would follow the same pattern. Many of the migrant workers (particularly Turks) did adopt such a mentality, even refusing to allow their children to learn the local language. However, the majority of Muslims preferred to remain in their new countries. Liberal welfare programs and attractive job opportunities convinced them to stay

in the land of the infidels.




In the Netherlands, since 1945, the Muslim population has grown to about one million. Muslims now comprise 6% of the Dutch population of 16 million. The breakdown is as follows: 300,000 Turks, 252,000 Moroccans, 35,000 Surinamese and 5,000 Pakistanis. In lesser numbers there are

several thousand Moluccans, former Yugoslav Muslims, Somalis, Iranians, Afghans and Iraqis. There are 18 mosques in Amsterdam proper, and the largest mosque in Western Europe is just outside the city.




In Germany, there are 4 million Muslims, half from Turkey. 379,093 Turkish adolescents attend school in Germany. German Muslims, despite past competition and division, have turned to cooperation with the government with the stated goal of establishing Islam as a legally recognized religion. Legal status would place Islamic religious instruction into the German public school curriculum, facilitate mosque building and provide other special Islamic rights in public and private life. The Muslim lobby in Germany is also seeking representation on elected foreign advisory councils.




In France, Islam has become the second largest religion after Christianity. The National Federation of French Muslims (NFFM) was founded in 1985 and rivals the Mosquee de Paris in promoting a French-styled Islam. NFFM serves as the umbrella organization for more than 500 Islamic associations. France has recently experienced unparalleled car-burning and rioting, instigated primarily by unassimilated Muslim youths. The issue of Muslim girls wearing headscarves in school has also created a tremendous amount of social upheaval and discontent

in France.



United Kingdom


In the United Kingdom, the first known mosque was established in Wokin in 1889. By 1963 there were 13 registered mosques; by 1985 the number had increased to 338. A recent survey estimates 849 mosques and 950 British Muslim organizations. The 1991 census reflected that 44% of the

1.5 million South Asians in Britain are Muslims. In 1997, Islamic efforts to unify diverse Muslim groups and institutions in the United Kingdom resulted in the formation of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which is the umbrella organization for more than 250 local, regional and national Muslim institutions.




In Switzerland, Muslims have grown from less than 20,000 in the 1970s to roughly 250,000 today, forming over 3% of the total population. In French-speaking Switzerland, Muslims originate from North African countries—while Turks are predominant in the German-speaking region.




In Sweden’s 1930 census, only 15 citizens indicated they were Muslim. Turkish speaking Tatars established the first Islamic congregation in 1948. The first wave of Muslim labor immigrants came to Sweden from Pakistan, Turkey, Albania and the former Yugoslavia. These were later followed by a steady stream of refugees from the Iran/Iraq War. A third wave of Somalis, Bosnians and Albanians followed in the 1990s. Today, there are 400,000 Muslims in Sweden; over 20% of the city of Malmo is Muslim.




Muslims comprise 1.5% of the 4.3 million Norwegians. The highest concentration of Muslims in Norway is in the capital city, Oslo. Oslo is home to the first mosque built in a Scandanavian capital. By 1995, in the eastern section of Oslo, 80% of primary schoolchildren were Muslim immigrants. The Muslim population of Norway has increased to 66,000, becoming the second largest faith community in Norway after the Evangelical Lutheran Church.




In Denmark, home to the “cartoon riots” seen in the first months of 2006, Muslims now number 150,000. Islam is firmly rooted in Denmark—to the extent that the Qu’ran is required reading in upper-secondary schools. Denmark is now host to more than 60 mosques, 17 private Islamic schools

and a large number of Muslim organizations.




The statistics mentioned above are merely illustrative of the quantitative growth of Islam in Europe. Islam’s qualitative growth has not been covered here. The influence and impact of the plethora of radical, moderate and liberal leaders, imams, councils, organizations and schools is enormous—Yet, in no other continent or place in the world is there more and greater freedom for Christians to present a clear witness of the Christian gospel to Muslims. If they truly desire, Muslims have the opportunity in Europe to embrace the love of God through Jesus Christ, and many are doing just that! May God help us to lift our eyes to see this potential harvest—the Muslims of Europe.

                                      (Extraction from various Newsletters by Sabir Ali)