Islam: Europe's Second Largest
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.61
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.62 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
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.64
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.65
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.
||Europe streams to Islam,
Islam is Europe's second religion, In the West interest in
Islam is increasing, Islam settles in Europe, Europe wams
to Islam, Islamic life gains stregnth in Europe.
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