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 Muslims In Western Europe
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Jørgen Nielsen
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More than twenty years have passed since the first edition of this book. However, its structure and its driving questions have stood the test of time remarkably well.

Still, the need for an updated version has become obvious as the field has developed and the legal and political structures of countries have changed. New Islamic organisations have taken the stage, and some old ones have lost influence. Having taught courses on Islam in Europe and benefitting from Jørgen Nielsen’s book, I found the need for an update pressing and contacted the author asking if he considered a fourth edition.

 As it happened, I ended up responsible for the revisions instead, but Nielsen has assisted both with advice and proof reading, possibly becoming more involved than he at first meant to.

The history of an integration process

When Jørgen Nielsen penned the first edition of the book, western Europe was slowly becoming aware of a demographic change that was taking place.

The book was timely, up to date, and yet scholarly, written by a historian who was among the first researchers to seriously consider the new Muslim presence in Europe. As time has passed and the new editions have been prepared and pub- lished in 1995, 2004, and now in 2015, the original part of the book describing the late 1980s and early 1990s has changed character and is now describing an important, transitional phase in the history of Muslim integration in western Europe. Reading the book today, a pattern emerges that was not there from the beginning.

 Rather, it has been created by the passing of time and been caught by the updates. If comparing the first faltering steps taken by Islamic organisations in the 1970s with the, at times, highly professionalised, often legally recognised, Muslim organisations of today, the development becomes striking.

 Muslim organisations have learnt to adapt and make space for themselves through trials and errors, a development that can be observed in all western European countries. Some have received external aid from, for example, the Diyanet, the Turkish Department of Religious Affairs, which sends out paid imams and helps out with organising. Others have been built up through local individual initatives when trying to take a stand in a single question – like the possibility of serving halal food at the local school. Later, these initiatives have grown into organisations, increasing the numbers of members, but also taking a political responsibility for integration, representing Muslims locally.

For example, the Islamic Centre in Malmö, Sweden, developed just like that, starting in the early 1970s. Some Muslim activists have grown into professional civil society actors with a firm knowledge of legal and administrative matters as well as knowledge of the pragmatic ways of local and national politics.

At the same time, states’ politics have developed. The first drowsy and haphazard responses to Muslim activists in the 1970s have led to an increased awareness, legal adaptation, and new administrative strategies. Several coun- tries have developed, or expanded, a category often called something like ‘recognised religious communities’. As such, Muslim organisations may gain legal recognition and with it rights on a par with other religious communities that have had a longer presence in western Europe. What these rights consist of differs. It might be the right to organise confessional religious instruction or collect membership fees through governmental taxation systems. The impor- tant issue, however, is the signal of integration; that Muslim organisations are legitimate. The process took some 40 years and the present book addresses it in two ways: country by country (chapters 2–7), and thematically with chapters addressing law, transnational and global Muslim organisations and profound political events (chapters 8–10).

The book focuses on the integration of organised Muslim life into western European states, and nowhere is this more visible than when looking at religious education (RE): each country chapter has a part on this. Education is the prime arena for a minority population where state influence is unavoidable. States view RE in numerous different ways.

In Sweden, for example, the aim of RE is non-confessional giving pupils a broad introduction to religions as historical, social and ethical phenomena, while in Spain, Islamic organisations are allowed to arrange for confessional RE in public schools, developing their own textbooks for it.

 Muslim organisations are dependent on the so-called political opportu- nity structures of society, that is, the existing opportunities given by legal and administrative structures. However, without attempting to mobilise and daring to risk failure, few such structures would have been attainable by Muslims. It is not only the structures in place that matter, the individuals’ actions – both the Muslim activists’ and the progressive politicians’ – are crucial if changes are to come about. Of course, some Muslim activists are also politicians as, over time, some Muslims have taken political office, yet another aspect of integration.

Those who have used the book before will recognise the structure, the one exception being that the bibliographical essay has been taken out due to the ease with which literature can be found today through search engines, and because of the abundance of available literature.

For updates on literature, we refer the reader to the many volumes of The Yearbook of Muslims in Europe published by Brill and edited by Jørgen Nielsen together with Akgönül, Alibašić, Maréchal, Moe and Račius since 2009. These highly useful handbooks contain country reports covering, for example, the demographic development, the activities of Muslim organisations and legal changes, but also references to new literature.

Preface to the first edition

Until the mid-1980s, the documentation of the situation of Muslims in western Europe was sparse and emanated from a very few sources, most of them related either to Muslim or church-based organisations. Until that time, information about this aspect of current Islam had to be sifted out of the literature on immigrants, ethnic minorities and race relations.

These were areas of academic study which had their own network of presumptions and disciplinary methods, in which religion and religious identity tended, at most, to be aspects of secondary interest and even then only of interest to those researchers who had a professional interest in the sociology of religion. Indeed, so dominated by the secular assumptions of academic sociology was the field, that well into the 1970s there seemed to be an expectation that communities of immigrant origin would quickly follow a course characterised by the privatisation of religion: one could look forward to the existence of ethnic minority communities who were integrated to the extent that their religion would have a place similar to that of the private Christianity of Protestant northern Europe or laicised Catholic France.

It was partly due to the refusal of a substantial proportion of the Muslim immigrants and their children to adhere to this model that the attitude of parts of the academic community began to alter during the mid-1980s.

A few academics began to see valid research possibilities in the issues arising out of the Muslim presence in Europe. The process was helped by the realisation in local and national political structures that there was a growing ‘Islamic factor’ in the social and political processes associated with immigration and ethnic minority. This was not unconnected with events in the Middle East, where Islam had become a much more explicitly profiled element of some ‘disruptive’ potential, certainly as perceived from the western European point of view. It is no coincidence that this change took place at a time when the immigration of dependants had virtually ceased, when immigration was becoming a more overtly political question of refugees, and when a racist backlash was threatening the traditional party political systems of France and West Germany. In France and Britain especially, one was also witnessing the growth to maturity’ – and therefore to the labour market and into colleges and universities – of the children of immigrants. Finally, the ‘Rushdie affair’, in Britain, and the ‘affair of the headscarves’, in France, served to place the subject of Muslims in western Europe towards the top of academic and political agendas. Most recently, of course, the repercussions of the Gulf crisis have again underscored the fact that Muslim communities in western Europe have acquired a political role.

The second half of the 1980s has, in consequence, seen a substantial increase in the number of publications dealing specifically with aspects of the Muslim presence in western Europe. The writings have come, of course, primarily from sociologists and anthropologists, but lawyers, political scientists, planners, geographers, historians, demographers, educationalists, economists and even schol- ars of Islam have contributed.

Publications and papers produced by Christian and Muslim organisations continue to be useful, not only for their intrinsic value, but also because they often provide a helpful general introduction and literature survey, both of which are useful to anyone new to this complex and interdisciplinary field of work.

However, the field remains a largely unexplored one, and the production of research and publication continues to depend on relatively specialised interests and limited funding. This means that any survey of Muslims in western Europe must be uneven – it depends on available research and on the existence of indi- viduals with an active personal interest. It is to be expected that the economic and political circumstances in a particular country will have a major influence on the amount of information and analysis available.

It was, for example, only during 1990 that the combination of a debate around new immigration legisla- tion, a large rise in the number of economic migrants across the Mediterranean, moves by the European Community to harmonise internal and external pass- port controls, and signs of a racist reaction finally focused any kind of serious attention on the substantial Muslim population in Italy – raising the kinds of simple practical questions which many countries further north thought had been solved at least a decade earlier.

All these considerations come together both to justify the purpose of this book and to make its limits quite clear. The number of books which have attempted a survey of Muslims in western Europe overall is small. The best discuss in some depth issues relating to the challenges to both Islam and Europe arising out of this situation. Nowhere, to the best of my knowledge, does one find a reliable description both of the origins, ethnic composition, distribution, and organisational patterns of the Muslim communities, and of the political, legal and cultural context in which they find their way.

I have chosen not to attempt a mainly thematic study of the subject. On the one hand, sufficient comparable research data covering the whole region simply do not exist. On the other hand, the situation is in a constant state of rapid flux, as I was all too aware while this book was being written during 1989, 1990 and early 1991. My purpose has been to provide a reference source which can be used by interested readers of whatever background and for whatever purpose.

I have, however, been particularly concerned to meet my perception of the needs of three categories of readers. One is the researcher working from within a single country who wishes to try to widen his or her horizon towards a comparison with the situation in other countries of Europe – there is a constant danger that those who work with, for example, Turkish Muslims in Germany see Islam and European Muslims solely in the perspective of German Turkish Islam, a phenomenon which is as particular as that of French Algerian or British Pakistani Islam.

 The other two categories are both within that favourite audi- ence of the serious publisher, namely the interested general reader. Here I have especially been concerned to provide, I hope, a balanced and objective account of the situation of the Muslim communities for those Europeans, Christian or otherwise, who stand outside the Muslim community, as well as an account of the European context and its constraints which may help Muslim observers outside Europe to understand the situation of their fellows inside Europe.

This book therefore concentrates on an encyclopaedic approach to the subject. The main chapters are country surveys which should be read together with the bibliographical essay at the end. The reader thoroughly familiar with the situation in, say, the Netherlands, will obviously find the section on that country highly unsatisfactory in its relative brevity and superficiality but not, I trust, in its general accuracy.

For such a reader, I have intended that the chap- ters on other countries will be a useful beginning for comparative purposes.

Chapters 8 and 9 discuss the main issues which extend across all borders, for which sufficient research exists to make sense of any serious discussion. No excuse is made for including in the chapter on organisations a series of brief introductions to various Islamic movements in their original context; this may seem elementary to the scholar of Islam, but it is absolutely essential to the European sociologist. I have not included a chapter on education, despite the fact that this is probably one of the issues which will be central for some time to come. The reason is simply that the circumstances so differ between coun- tries, that little can be said by way of meaningful generalities. Each country’s description reflects this in the weight given to the educational scene.

The concluding chapter builds on the events of 1989 and 1990 in an attempt to define more speculatively the challenges posed by the Muslim presence to the future of Europe.

Apart from the published sources mentioned in the Bibliographical Essay, most of the contextual data as well as much of the direct information in this book are dependent on the information and unpublished accounts and documenta- tion produced from within a small network of people working on the questions created by the recent remarkable emergence of Muslim communities in western Europe. It should come as no surprise, in the light of the initial remarks above, that the core of that network should be a small group of church-related resource people, gathered in the annual ‘Journées d’Arras’, from most of the countries covered in this book.

These people are in very close everyday contact with Muslim leaders and groups and therefore supplement usefully my own contacts and discussions over many years with a variety of Muslim friends and colleagues across the region. The text published here takes into account the reactions, comments and advice of all these people, but the final responsibility for the descriptions and evaluations is mine alone.

My own work over a number of years also entails that some parts of this book reproduce material I have previously published elsewhere. I am therefore especially pleased to acknowledge permission to reproduce in part or in amended form Chapter 1 from the University of Nottingham,1 the first part of Chapter 9 from the University of Leiden,2 and parts of Chapter 10 from the Churches’ Committee for Migrants in Europe3 and from my own Centre.4

Finally, it should be noted that the completion of this study for the press has taken place under the shadow of the Gulf crisis and the perception of enormous repercussions not only for relations between the Muslim world and the West, or Christendom, in continental terms, but also for those relations within the communities of the industrial cities of western Europe.

I can only hope and pray that this survey may contribute to a saner and cooler discussion of our mutually dependent future, a future where both civilisations can benefit and learn from each other, as they have done in the past.

Note to the second edition

I am grateful to the many people who have made comments to me on the first edition of this book. This second edition takes into account many of these sug- gestions and corrections. It also includes some updating of statistics. More sub- stantially it includes new material on Italy and Spain which has appeared in the last two years. I have decided not to make any major amendment to the chapter on West Germany following the reunification, since the Muslim presence in the East is still not much more than symbolic. However, some of the repercussions of the reunification, such as the rise in racial violence, are dealt with briefly in Chapter 10.

Note to the third edition

In the near decade which has passed since the second edition of this book, our subject has changed almost beyond recognition. While the immigrant genera- tion continues to maintain a significant role in determining the nature and role of Muslim organisations and defining what constitutes Islam, their children are rapidly taking over. This is both beginning to change the character of Islam in Europe and also challenging society, political structures and discourse, and governments sharply. Events abroad, above all the attacks on New York and Washington of 11 September 2001 and subsequent wars, have focused public debate and attention on Muslims in an unprecedented fashion.

The beginnings of serious academic research on this subject, noted above, have been superseded during the 1990s by an explosion of published studies in the form of countless articles, some monographs and a substantial number of collective works arising out of seminars and conferences, a development which is reflected in the mass of new material referred to in the Bibliographical Essay. Islam in Europe has become a subject which research funding agencies now take seriously. It is unfortunately still the case, however, that only a minute number of young Muslim scholars are entering this field.

This growth of activity, both on the ground and in research, means that almost all parts of this book have been subjected to a substantial revision for the third edition. I have decided to maintain the mainly historical approach in the presentation of individual countries, especially since the great majority of the recent studies have been concentrated on the present. Although it is now well over a decade since the fall of the Soviet system, the situation in central and eastern Europe, including what used to be East Germany, remains so notably different from that in the West, that I have felt justified in not adjusting the geographical area defined already in the first edition.

After three editions, it is time that I record my appreciation to the staff of Edinburgh University Press for their continuing interest in this book and, above all, for their care and efforts in nursing it through to publication for the third time.


  1. ‘Muslims in Europe’, Renaissance and Modern Studies, vol. 21 (1987), pp. 58–73.
  2. ‘Muslim organisations in Europe: integration or isolation?’, in P. S. van Koningsveld and

W. A. Shadid (eds), The integration of Muslims and Hindus in Western Europe (Kampen: Kok Pharos, 1991).

  • ‘Islamic law and its significance for the situation of Muslim minorities in Europe: report of a study project’, Research Papers: Muslims in Europe, no. 35 (September 1987).
  • ‘Co-existence of cultures – the European experience’, Newsletter: Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, no. 16 (November 1986), pp.18–27; German original: ‘Zusammenleben verschiedener Kulturen – Erfahrungen in Europe’, in J. Lähnemann (ed.), Erziehung zur Kulturbegegnung (Hamburg: EBV-Rissen, 1986), pp. 135–47.

A brief history

The presence of Muslims in one or another part of continental Europe probably goes as far back in time as historical Islam. Traders and diplomats have over the centuries been a continuous feature of many places in especially central and southern Europe. But it is also possible to identify three distinct periods of established Muslim communities. The first of these has passed into history, namely the period of Islamic Spain and Muslim rule in Sicily and southern Italy.

The Normans put an end to the latter in the eleventh century, and the Spanish reconquista finally put an end to the last Muslim foothold in Spain in 1492. All that remains today of that phase is the rich contribution it made to all aspects of European culture.

The two following phases have, however, left permanent communities. The second was the result of the spread of Mongol armies during the thirteenth century. After only a few generations, their successor states became Muslim, and one of these, the Khanate of the Golden Horde, centred on the Volga river basin north of the Caspian and Black seas, left a permanent Muslim population of various Tatar groups stretching from the Volga down to the Caucasus and Crimea.

As itinerant traders and soldiers, many of these groups later travelled around the Russian empire and established colonies in places such as Finland and the area which today straddles the border between Poland and the Ukraine. The third phase was the period of Ottoman expansion into the Balkans and central Europe.

This was the context for the settlement of Turkish populations which still survive today in parts of Bulgaria, former Yugoslavia, Romania, the republic of Macedonia and Greece. Many of the Ottoman subject popula- tions also became Muslim, to the extent that Albania became a country with a Muslim majority, and Slav groups in Bosnia-Herzegovina and parts of Bulgaria also became Muslim.

The period with which this book deals is a relatively new, fourth phase, namely the establishment of Muslim communities in western Europe. This is generally regarded as a feature of the great period of immigration after the Second World War, but in fact the foundations were laid long before then.

Situated as they were in the centre of Europe, the German states had a very particular experience of Islam, in the form of Ottoman Turkish expansion through the Balkans during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This was a history very much characterised by conflict culminating in the two sieges of Vienna, in 1529 and 1683, events which helped to instil into German thinking the idea of the ‘Turkish peril’. The second of the two sieges, especially, also provided the circumstances in which people of Muslim origin first became permanent residents in Germany.

The relief of Vienna and the Ottoman retreat left behind large numbers of Ottoman soldiers and camp followers, either as stragglers or prisoners. There are numerous accounts of such individuals enter- ing court service or taking up trades and professions, mainly in the south, but also elsewhere. Several are recorded as having converted and become priests or pastors. One was raised to the Hanoverian nobility.

A new phase commenced with the expansion of Prussia in the mid-eighteenth century. In 1731, the Duke of Kurland presented twenty Turkish guardsmen to King Frederick William I. Ten years later, King Frederick I (the Great) formed the first Prussian lancer unit from Tatars who had deserted from the Russian army. Further desertions led to other units being created, and at one time about 1,000 Muslim soldiers are said to have served in the Prussian cavalry. The Prussian kings’ fascination with the Enlightenment was reflected in their consideration for the religious concerns of their Muslim troops. Already the first contingent of Turkish guardsmen had been given the use of a prayer room – on Sundays!

It soon became necessary to establish a Muslim cemetery in Berlin, in which a mosque was finally built in 1866. Diplomatic relations had been established between Berlin and Istanbul in the eighteenth century. These were being slowly expanded a century later, when the Sultan extended his patronage to this mosque. Trading treaties had been concluded between the Ottoman empire and the Hanseatic cities in 1839 and the Customs Union in 1840. The German states remained preoccupied with central European problems until the unification in 1870–1, after which Bismarck refrained from challenging the great powers in the Middle East.

However, after Bismarck was dismissed, the Emperor embarked on a more ambitious approach to the Ottomans, expanding trade and diplomatic relations and building up German economic interests, especially in modernising the Ottoman infrastructure.

As a consequence of these developments, the Muslim community in Germany, and particularly in Berlin, grew significantly in the years before the First World War. During the war itself, when the two countries were allies, the German government and the Turkish ambassador in Berlin worked together in providing a mosque and imams for the Muslim prisoners taken from opposing armies: Tatars, Caucasians and Turks from Russia, Indians from Britain, and Senegalese and Algerians from France.

The German and Turkish defeats ended an era. After the war, a small Muslim community remained in Berlin and was able to build a mosque in the Wilmersdorf district, where it still stands today. A new era started with the next war, when perhaps as many as a quarter of a million captured Soviet troops chose to serve the Third Reich, either in the Ostlegionen or in Wehrmacht and SS units. A large proportion of these troops were from Soviet Muslim nationalities.

 They were served by a corps of Muslim ‘chaplains’, some of whom were trained at the faculty of Islamic studies at the University of Göttingen.

In one of the more shameful episodes of the Second World War, the Allies sent many of these troops back to the Soviet Union at the end of the war. Some, however, were able to remain in Germany and were joined by others fleeing from eastern Europe and Soviet control. Several thousand Muslims of different Balkan and east European nationalities thus settled all over Germany after the war.

 By 1958, they had succeeded in organising themselves into the Geistliche Verwaltung der Muslimflüchtlinge in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (spiritual administration for Muslim refugees in the Federal Republic of Germany). This grouping still exists today but under another name (Islamische Gemeinschaft in Deutschland).

In central Europe, attention has been concentrated on the early settlement of Muslims in the territory today encompassed by Germany, necessarily so because of the importance of the Muslim communities in that area since the 1960s. But this should not allow one to forget that, in a sense, the modern state of Austria has inherited a much more institutional history of relations with an indigenous Muslim community.

Until the defeat of the First World War, the Habsburg empire, which became the Austro-Hungarian empire during the nineteenth century, with its capital in Vienna, had been one of the two European powers which had faced the Ottoman empire – the other was Russia – for a period of centuries. Some of the effects of this have already been described above, but, during the late nineteenth century, Austria entered into a new experience with Islam which sets it apart from any other western European country of immigration.

In 1878, this dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary acquired a substantial Muslim population with the occupation of Ottoman Bosnia-Herzegovina. Already accustomed to a multicultural and multireligious state, it was not long before Vienna had a resident mufti. Four years before that occupation, a law had already been passed giving certain concessions to Muslim law regarding the family. In 1909, the Vienna government abolished the separate status of Bosnia-Herzegovina, incorporating the province into the main realm. Three years later, an act was passed ‘relating to the recognition of the followers of Islam of the Hanafite rite as a religious community’ within the terms of the 1867 constitution. This extended the recognition of Muslims to the whole realm, and it was to become the legal basis of the renewed recognition of Muslims in 1979. One result of this particular history was that the Austrian legal system was for a time required to apply Islamic family law within its courts for Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina. To help the courts, a German translation of a Hanafi code of Islamic family law was published in Vienna in 1883.

Muslims in western Europe

The early history of Islam in Britain is closely associated with the expansion of British and colonial involvement in India. During the second half of the eighteenth century, the East India Company was recruiting to a significant extent in Indian ports.

These men were laid off and left to fend for themselves while their ships were docked in Britain. In 1822, following an investigation by the anti-slavery campaigner Thomas Clarkson, the East India Company was obliged to arrange for the establishment of boarding-houses. Further campaigns to improve the men’s situation culminated in the opening in 1857 of a home for ‘Asiatics, Africans and South Sea Islanders’ in the Limehouse district of London. Some of these Indian seamen were Muslims, but the Muslim element increased substantially after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Through Aden, large numbers of Yemeni Arabs and Somalis were recruited. Yemeni boarding-houses started appearing in a number of ports, in particular Cardiff and South Shields. Based on these, Yemeni communities started settling, the men often marrying British women.

 At the end of the century, the stability and cohesion of these communities was strengthened with the arrival of a shaykh of the ‘Alawi Sufi order. Soon centres, or zawiyahs, of this order were to be found also in inland cities to which Yemenis were moving. These zawiyahs were centres of social and religious life, providing basic Islamic instruction and facilities for worship and, in the larger ones, teaching of Arabic and the Islamic religious sciences. They also provided a focal point for the British wives, who had usually become Muslim.

London and Liverpool were centres for a wide mix of people of Muslim background. Seamen from West Africa were common in Liverpool, where traders also sponsored the education of West African notables. In general, there was a growing population of Muslims coming for higher education, as well as a number of Indian aristocrats. The post of personal physician to Queen Victoria was for a long time occupied by an Indian Muslim. It was for these cosmopolitan communities that the first mosques were established in Britain. The foundation of the mosque in Liverpool at the beginning of the 1890s is associated with one of the most singular characters in the history of British Islam.

 Shaykh Abdullah (Henry William) Quilliam had become a Muslim in 1887 while travelling around the Ottoman empire and Morocco. The Ottoman sultan had appointed him Shaykh al-Islam of the United Kingdom, and the Shah of Persia made him consul in Liverpool. The congregation which gathered around Quilliam found permanent premises in a group of terraced houses in 1891. There he organised regular prayers, festivals, weddings and funerals as well as a boys’ day school, evening classes, a hostel, a library and a printing press. For potential British converts, he arranged Sunday morning and evening services on the pattern of church services, so that they might ‘feel more at home at our missionary meetings…’.

His activities sometimes aroused opposition, especially when he advocated the cause of Islam. His protests against the British expedition against Mahdist Sudan had some people talking of treason, as did his continuing loyalty to the caliphate of the Ottoman sultan. In 1908 he left Liverpool for good, and with his departure the work that he had started withered away.

In London, it was the activities of a Hungarian Orientalist, Dr Leitner, who had been registrar at the University of Punjab, which led to the building of the Shahjehan Mosque in Woking in 1889. Funded primarily by the ruler of Bhopal, the mosque was envisaged as the centrepiece of an Islamic centre, with a library, a hostel for Indian students, and ultimately its own teaching facilities culminating in the establishment of an Islamic university. Of these dreams, only the hostel materialised. When Dr Leitner died in 1899, his sponsors lost inter- est, and the mosque became the property of his heirs. In 1913, the mosque was again taken into use, when one Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din sponsored by an English convert, Lord Headley, bought it and made it a centre of missionary work for the Ahmadi movement. During the Second World War, the people around the Woking Muslim Mission preserved an apolitical profile and concentrated on welfare work, in particular for the widows and orphans of Indian soldiers. They also sponsored a Muslim Literary Society, of which both the Qur’an translators Marmeduke Pickthall and Abdullah Yusuf Ali were members.

The Woking Muslim Mission was linked to the Lahori branch of the Ahmadi move- ment and had always rejected the claims of the Qadiani branch that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was a prophet. But this was not sufficient at a time when Indian Sunni opposition to the Ahmadis was mounting. Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din and Lord Headley died in 1932 and 1933 respectively, and two years later a new management committee rejected all further ties to the Ahmadis.

After the First World War, Lord Headley and his Muslim acquaintances at the Woking Muslim Mission had started talking of a central mosque for London. Initially received as an unrealistic dream, it was given a boost when a central mosque was opened in Paris in 1926. Soon afterwards, Lord Headley succeeded in interesting the Nizam of Hyderabad in the project, and in 1928 the London Nizamiah Mosque Trust was established. After this initial impetus little further happened until the Second World War when the Saudi Arabian ambassador, Shaykh Hafiz Wahba, became interested.

A site became available when King George VI donated a plot in Regent’s Park by Hanover Gate at about the same time as a site in Cairo was donated by King Faruq for a new Anglican cathedral. In November 1944, the Islamic Cultural Centre was opened by King George

VI. Three years later, the ambassadors and high commissioners of some thir- teen Muslim countries formed the Central London Mosque Trust to raise the money to build a mosque. Starting with the funds of the now defunct Nizamiah Trust, other donations were solicited.

 A foundation stone was laid in 1954, but the Suez war, plus funding problems and disagreements over design, served to delay the project through the 1960s. After an architectural competition in 1969, it was possible again to start construction, and the new mosque was finally opened in 1977.

 Then, however, the character of the Muslim community that it served had undergone a radical change.

While the history of Muslim immigration into France is about as old as that of Britain, it is characterised by much greater continuity. There were, certainly, students and businessmen as well as political exiles during the nineteenth century – the most famous exiles being Muhammad Abduh and Jamal al-Din al-Afghani. However, even before the First World War, there was a significant element of labour migration.

The largest number came from Algeria, and during the first few decades of migration, the Kabyles were the single most numerous group. In 1912, half of the 4,000 to 5,000 Algerians worked in olive oil refin- ing and related industries around Marseilles. The rest were spread around the factories and mines in the east and north of the country. The initial reaction to the outbreak of war in 1914 was characterised by a sharp drop in population, but quickly the need for men in both civilian and military work tempted tens of thousands of Algerians and many more Tunisians and Moroccans.

In addition, the government adopted a policy of requisitioning men. During the war, nearly 200,000 Algerians came to France, two-thirds of them requisitioned. The French government, in recognition of this involvement in the war effort, allocated a grant for the purpose of building a mosque in Paris. Under the direction of a trust run by representatives of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Senegal, this mosque was opened in 1926.

During the 1920s, North African immigration was erratic because of constantly changing government policy, and, after the 1929 economic crisis, people returning to Algeria regularly outnumbered immigrants. In 1942, after German occupation of part of France, the Vichy government contracted to supply 16,000 Kabyles to the Todt Organisation to build the Atlantic Wall for the Germans. The allied invasion of North Africa in November of the same year both put a stop to further such deals and forced these workers to stay in France for the duration of the war.

 By 1946, there were only 22,000 Algerians in France and so few Tunisians and Moroccans as to escape the net of the census. But, with peace, migration resumed, and by 1954 the census registered 212,000 Algerians.

Some of these immigrants were beginning to bring over their families and to look at their migration as a permanent move. This did not mean that their links with Algeria were necessarily weakening. It was in this immigrant community that the early steps were taken towards Algerian independence. The 1920s had seen the first political agitation and publication of journals and tracts going much further in their demands than was possible among groups in Algeria.

 When the war of independence commenced in the mid-1950s, the Algerians in France were effectively the financiers of the rebellion – at great cost to them- selves. A curfew was imposed on them in Paris and many were arrested when they marched in protest. During 1957 alone, about 40,000 were imprisoned.

 A brief history

The early Muslim presence in Nordic countries developed rather differently. The first Muslim immigrants came from Russia. Already, by 1830, Finland (then part of Russia) had become the home of Tatar and Kazakh soldiers with a Muslim background. But it was with the arrival of Tatar Muslim businessmen and their families from 1870 onwards that the first permanently settled Muslim community took form in a Nordic country.

After Finnish independence in 1917, these were granted citizenship and eventually, after the Freedom of Religion Act took effect in 1923, they were officially recognised as a religious community. During the Second World War, additional families of Tatar Muslims fled the Baltic countries to Finland. A few made their way to Sweden and ended up in Stockholm.

In the late 1940s, the Tatar community consisted of six or seven small households, all together thirteen individuals. Together with a few Turkish and Arabic men working at embassies in Sweden, the Tatars organised in 1949 the first Muslim association in Sweden called The Turk–Islamic Association in Sweden for the Promotion of Religion and Culture.

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