There are close 20 million to 30 million Muslims living in Europe making up about 4% of the population. France and Germany have the largest Muslim population. Germany is home to 4 million Muslims, of which two million are citizens. Mosques that were once an urban phenomenon are found in far corners of the European Continent. In England there are 2.6 million Muslims. In Europe Muslims are visible on streets, most are not professionals, but work in retail, agriculture, food service and labor. French Muslims tend to be from Arab and African states, British Muslims from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, Dutch Muslims from Morocco, and German Muslims from Turkey, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Between 2010-2016 an estimated 2.5 million Muslims came to Europe for reasons other than seeking asylum, such as for employment or to go to school. About 1.3 million more Muslims received (or are expected to receive) refugee status,
The push back against all sorts of immigrants has been growing rapidly. European population is now looking different which causes concern for security, safety and jobs. Europe which once prided itself on tolerance, plurality and freedom of religion and expression, is now turning to patriotism and national identity with right wing anti Islam, anti-immigration parties like AfD on the rise.
Many countries have brought in a wide range of anti-Islamic measures. Switzerland decided to ban the minarets; Netherlands, Bulgaria, Latvia, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and France have banned the Burqa. Netherland’s anti Islam leader Geert Wilder wants banning the Quran, building of new mosques, and ending immigration from all Muslim countries.
In February 2018 a German court ordered a mosque to stop broadcasting Friday call to prayer after the complaint of a Christian couple who live about a kilometer (0.6 miles) away. German interior minister Horst Seehofer said last month “Islam is not part of Germany, Christianity has shaped Germany “
In Vienna last month a 26-year-old Austrian was shot dead outside the Iranian ambassador’s residence after a knife attack on a soldier guarding the building. The assailant, who police said was of Egyptian origin, “died on the spot” after the soldier opened fire. On March 14 in Germany –an Afghan rushed to Chancellor Angela Merkel in front of the Bundestag. The individual was blocked by a bodyguard and then arrested by the police.
What is the solution to build bridges between communities on the European continent? The answer was aptly given by outspoken German Interior Minister Seehofer: “Live with us, not parallel to or against us”. He added: “The Muslims who live with us are, of course, part of Germany”.
Zakaria Virk, Editor